Within the past week, California has passed multiple bills to remove barriers that once made it almost impossible for homeowners to build an ADU on their properties. 

A grand total of six California ADU bills were passed! While this news is exciting, we’ll be the first to admit that this flood of changes can be a bit hard to follow. 

That’s why we’ve compiled this list and broken it down to the bare bones of what you need to know. 

SB 13 

Parking Just Got Easier

Let’s start with the heaviest bill.  While there are several components to SB 13 that make building an ADU easier, there are a few main points that are essential to know. 

Prior to this bill, homeowners were required to replace parking spaces on the property if they were converting or demolishing their garage, carport, or covered parking space. SB 13 eliminates this dreaded parking requirement. 

To clarify, those who are located more than half a mile from public transit will still be required to add a parking space. However, your existing driveway can satisfy this requirement. 

Now you don’t have to worry about the added construction costs that come with adding a new parking space. Plus, you’ll save a lot more time. 

Bye Bye Owner Occupancy Rules

Maybe you wanted to build an ADU to travel the world, like this adventurous Berkeley resident, but strict owner occupancy laws kept you stuck? With the changes, cities are no longer allowed to require owner occupancy for at least 5 years. That means you can vacation to your heart’s desire.

SB 13 also puts pressure on your city’s permitting office to pick up the pace. The bill slices the ADU application approval time in half from a horrendous 120 days to a more reasonable 60 days. 

Impact Fees Waived!

Finally, say goodbye to impact fees if your ADU is less than 750 square feet. If your ADU is over 750 square feet you’re still in luck. Fees will be made proportional to the square footage of the ADU. This will make the fees significantly lower than what they were prior to SB 13 being passed.  

If the new California ADU bills have now made your property eligible for an ADU, you can contact one of our expert consultants to schedule a home evaluation to help get you started.

AB 670

HOAs Can’t Kill Your ADU Dreams

HOAs were one of the only governing bodies that had the authority to overwrite state laws. That means HOAs were allowed to prohibit homeowners from building ADUs on their own properties. 

This was a common issue that we’ve found many people had run into. There were more than 4 million homes that were eligible, but so many HOAs refused.

However, with AB 670, HOAs no longer have that power. While the organization is still allowed to establish guidelines such as minimum and maximum unit sizes and minimum rental terms, they are not allowed to prohibit a homeowner from adding an ADU on their properties. 

Through the amnesty program, AB 670 also addressed the common issue of illegally built ADUs. If you have an ADU on your property that was built without the required permits or inspections, you now have five years to bring your structure up to code as long as the issues are not related to health and safety. 

AB 671

AB 671 lowers costs through government incentives for building ADUs with affordable rent.

The bill would require the Department of Housing and Community Development to develop a list of existing state grants and financial incentives for operating, administrative, and other expenses in connection with the planning, construction, and operation of accessory dwelling units with affordable rent. 

The department is now required to provide this list on its website by December 31, 2020.

AB 881/ AB 68

Both of these California ADU bills, have very similar language and declare essentially the same thing. 

Terrible Setbacks No Longer an Issue

A big obstacle that so many homeowners face is the extremely strict setback requirements. Luckily, AB 881 would impose much easier setback requirements to cope with. 

No Minimum Lot Size Requirement

Also, a big plus from this bill is that there will not be a minimum lot size requirement. As long as your property follows all other requirements, your lot size will no longer hold you back.

Other impositions that you don’t have to worry about are open space, lot coverage, and floor area ratio. 

Two Units on One Property?!

Perhaps the most exciting aspect of these bills is that now you can have both an ADU and a JADU on your property. A JADU is a small living unit created from a bedroom within the primary dwelling unit.

This opens up so much potential for large families to stay even closer to their loved ones. 

AB 587

This bill was structured specifically to help those in need of low-income housing. 

If the property is owned by a nonprofit corporation for the purpose of building and rehabilitating single-family or multifamily residences for sale for low-income families, then the ADU is eligible to be sold separately from the primary home to a qualified buyer. 

One of the main reasons we’ve seen such a surge in California ADU bills is to combat the housing crisis. A bill like this is crucial to achieving that goal. 

How are these bills being enforced?

We know many cities may not be happy to adopt these changes and may refuse to honor these new bills. The fact of the matter is that these bills are now state law, meaning if your city is refusing to make the switch, you have a right to fight back.c

Luckily, the Housing and Community Development Department (HCD) is taking the reins in enforcing the new state laws. If you find your city is not complying with the changes and are refusing to allow you to build an ADU, you may contact the HCD who can then pursue legal action. 

Additionally, the HCD will be checking in with each and every city to make sure laws are being followed. 

What does this mean for you?

Whether you want to help the housing crisis, help out family members, or help out your financial situation, an ADU is crucial. With all these bills being passed to make building your ADU easier, right now is the time to take advantage of the opportunity.

Quick Run Down

We just went over quite a lot, so what are the key takeaways?

  • No minimum lot size, open space, lot coverage, and floor area ratio requirements
  • Setback requirements will be brought down to four feet
  • No impact fees for ADUs under 750 square feet
  • No owner-occupancy requirement for 5 years
  • HOA is no longer allowed to prohibit ADUs
  • An ADU and a JADU are allowed to be built on the same property
  • No parking requirement if your property is located within half a mile from public transit
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