While California made huge strides in 2017 with favorable Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) legislation, a new series of state bills, signed into law by Gov. Newsom in early 2020 further lowered barriers to creating ADUs, a.k.a. Granny Flats or garage conversions. Here are the basics of what you need to know regarding the 2020 ADU rule changes for California…
These 2020 ADU rule changes are statewide in California and all local jurisdictions (cities, counties, etc.) must comply with these new laws. If a City doesn’t create a new Accessory Dwelling Unit Ordinance, then state law will apply. If a City creates their own ADU Ordinance, it must comply with these new rules.
You are now permitted two ADUs on a single-family zoned property, one full Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) and one Junior Accessory Dwelling Unit (JADU). A JADU is a 500 sq.ft. max ADU created by converting part of an existing residence (such as a spare bedroom or attached garage).
From 2017-2020, many cities tried to stifle ADU development though local ordinances that severely limited ADU size based on lot size, lot coverage, and a slew of other restrictions. As of now, you can now build a detached ADU up to 800 sq. ft. and 16′ tall without any local discretionary approvals. ADUs created by conversions are also granted automatic approval. If a local municipality creates their own ADU ordinance, it must permit an ADU of up to 850 sq.ft. or 1,000 sq. ft. for an ADU that contains more than 1 bedroom.
Parking requirements for ADUs are still 1 parking space per unit or per bedroom (whichever is less) if you are located more than half a mile from public transit. But starting in 2020, ADUs do not require parking if they are created within an existing space in your house or an accessory structure, like a garage or carport. Additionally, no replacement parking is required for the main residence when a garage or carport is demolished or converted to create an ADU.
Setbacks for new ADUs have been reduced to 4′ for side and rear yards. Additional big news on setbacks: If you have a garage or carport you want to convert, but determine it is more costly to repair the old structure than it is to replace it, new law permits you to remove an existing structure and replace it with a new ADU that matches its footprint, maintaining the existing reduced setbacks.
As of this year, you can lease out both your home and ADU! Cities will no longer be able to charge impact fees for ADUs under 750 sq. ft. And impact fees for ADUs larger than 750 sq. ft. shall be proportional to the size of the ADU in relation to the primary dwelling. Cities must provide ministerial approval (or denial) of ADUs within 60 days of receiving the application in cases where there is an existing single-family dwelling on the lot. The prior rule was 120 days.
All good news in otherwise challenging times. Contact me if you would like to talk to one of our preferred contractors about an ADU. Have a great weekend!