State lawmakers believe too many California homeowners still
struggle to build granny flats, with high fees, construction costs
and regulations stalling even the most careful plans.
A handful of proposals in Sacramento would expand the years-long
efforts to clear hurdles for homeowners interested in building
auxiliary dwelling units (ADUs) on their property. The measures
would close some loopholes and cut more red tape in laws adopted in
the last three years to ease the construction process for the
One key measure would ban the state’s 50,000 homeowners
associations from restricting new in-law units in their
communities. Another would speed up local approval processes.
Housing advocates see granny flats as a less expensive, quicker
way to add housing in overcrowded regions. But some homeowner
groups see increased traffic and crowding in their suburban
David Garcia, policy director of the Terner Center for Housing
Innovation at UC Berkeley, said the HOA proposal addresses newer
suburban communities that can be resistant to change. “It tackles
one of the remaining legal barriers to ADUs,” he said.
State lawmakers have struggled to address the state’s housing
shortage in this legislative session. Broad measures to overhaul
housing policy have been sidetracked, but other incentives aimed at
increasing housing have advanced, including $2.75 billion in the
state budget to support new construction and battle
Spreading in-law units or granny flats into suburban
neighborhoods already equipped with roads, schools, sewers and
other infrastructure could bring thousands more rentals to the Bay
Area. Cities from Oakland to San Jose already have loosened their
For example, Los Angeles has approved more than 10,500 in-law
units since January 2017, when a state overhaul of ADU regulations
went in place, according to the city.
One homeowner group in the Bay Area and another in Southern
California have already raised concerns about the HOA proposal
adding traffic and placing additional burdens on their planned
Assemblymember Laura Friedman, D-Glendale, and co-author Sen.
Bob Wieckowski, D-Fremont, introduced Assembly Bill 670 to curb HOA
restrictions on construction of granny flats. The units offer a
“low impact way” to address the housing crisis, and shouldn’t
be banned outright by local associations, she said. The measure has
passed through the Assembly and is now in the Senate for
State researchers estimate nearly one-quarter of the state’s
homes — about 5 million units — are governed by homeowners
The measure allows HOAs to impose “reasonable restrictions”
on the units, including style and design, but prohibits them from
enforcing rules that would make them difficult to build.
Near Lake Tahoe, the town of Truckee has struggled to find
affordable homes for its middle class and year-round residents. The
town’s largest development, the 6,000-unit Tahoe Donner, contains
nearly half the town’s homes and apartments. Its homeowner’s
association bans the construction of ADUs, said town manager Jeff
The resort town is a popular site for second homes, but faces a
shortage of housing for local police officers, teachers and resort
workers, he said. Local businesses have complained they have hard
time attracting employees to live in the expensive community.
“The goal is to try to create more rental opportunities,
presumably at a lower cost,” Loux said.
The San Lorenzo Village Homes Association in the East Bay is
opposed to the measure. Association president Kathie Ready said
the 75-year-old community is struggling just to keep its existing
homes, yards and roads in good shape.
The neighborhood doesn’t have the parking or infrastructure
for more residents, she said. “I’m concerned about a million
things,” Ready said. “Where are we supposed to park these
Several other measures in Sacramento are aimed at making ADUs
easier to build.
Assemblymember Phil Ting, D-San Francisco, has proposed
streamlining the local approval process. His bill, AB 68, would
reduce the deadline for municipalities to review and approve
auxiliary units from 120 to 60 days. It would also prohibit towns
and cities from enacting laws aimed at restricting the units, such
as parking and lot size requirements.
Another proposal from Wieckowski would bring wide-ranging
changes to ADU law, including cutting municipal review periods,
reducing impact fees and expanding the number of eligible
properties. It would also ban communities from requiring owners to
live on the property where a unit is proposed. The measure, Senate
Bill 13, was approved by the Senate but faces opposition from
several cities and water and fire districts as it goes before an
Assembly committee this month.
A proposal to fund housing initiatives, Assembly Bill 101, also
provides financial incentives for localities to remove barriers to
Ting said encouraging ADU construction is a way to bring more
housing to communities with minimal disruption. “The real goal is
to get more housing production up and down the state,” he
The ADU bills still face review from committee panels in the
Assembly and Senate in coming weeks, and will need approval from
the full chambers and governor to become law.
Source: FS – All – Real Estate News 1
Granny flats may get easier to build