New ADU Law Coming Jan 1st

In exciting news for individual homeowners, Governor Gavin Newsom signed Assembly Bill 670 (AB 670) on August 30, 2019 that will prohibit common interest developments from prohibiting or unreasonably restricting the construction or use of an Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) on a lot zoned for single family residential use. The law becomes effective January 1, 2020 and will be codified under Cal. Civ. Code Section 4751. In more good news, the law allows for renting of an ADU for periods greater than 30 days.

The Legislature expressly stated the purpose of the law as follows: “[T]o encourage the construction of affordable accessory dwelling units and junior accessory dwelling units that are owner-occupied and that are used for rentals of terms longer than 30 days.”

Similar to the solar power law, a common interest development, or HOA, can impose reasonable restrictions that do not unreasonably increase the cost to construct, effectively prohibit the construction of, or extinguish the ability to otherwise construct, an accessory dwelling unit or junior accessory dwelling unit. The entire text of the new law may be found here.

Finally, the law refers to and incorporates already existing laws involving ADUs as found in Sections 65852.2 and 65852.22 of the Government Code. These sections of the Government Code impose guidelines on construction and use of ADUs, including:

  • Limit the number of ADUs to one per residential lot zoned for single-family residences with a single-family residence already built on the lot.
  • Require owner-occupancy in the single-family residence in which the ADU will be permitted. The owner may reside in either the
    remaining portion of the structure or the newly created ADU.
  • The total area of floorspace of an ADU shall not exceed 50 percent of the
    proposed or existing primary dwelling living area or 1,200 square feet.
  • Local building code requirements that apply to detached dwellings, as appropriate.
  • Parking requirements for accessory dwelling units shall not exceed one parking space per unit or per bedroom, whichever is less. These spaces may be provided as tandem parking on
    a driveway.

There are several other guidelines and restrictions found in the Government Code. Review the Code in detail for more information.

There is a tension between owners in communities who want to maximize the use of their property with owners who want to maintain a more traditional “single family residence” feel. It will be interesting how neighborhoods and communities grapple with these issues following enactment of this new law. Feel free to reach out to me with any questions, anecdotes or comments from your community.