Accessory Dwelling Units

California’s housing production is not keeping pace with demand. In the past decade, there has been an average of 80,000 homes a year built in California — 100,000 units below what’s needed to keep pace with population growth through 2025, according to a recent report by the California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD).
This lack of housing is impacting affordability with average housing costs in California exceeding the rest of the nation. As affordability becomes more problematic, people drive longer distances between a home that is affordable and where they work, or double up to share space, both of which reduces quality of life and produces negative environmental impacts.
Beyond traditional market-rate construction and government subsidized production and preservation there are alternative housing models and emerging trends that can contribute to addressing home supply and affordability in California.
One such example gaining popularity is Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs). Accessory Dwelling Units — commonly referred to as granny flats — are secondary units built on the property of a single-family home, such as a converted garage, a guest house or a smaller unit within an existing home.
According to Curbed LA, “The law gives owners of most single-family residences the option to construct accessory dwelling units—informally known as back houses, granny flats, or in-law units—as long as they comply with certain guidelines.
Approved by Governor Jerry Brown in September, the bill is intended to encourage the development of badly-needed new units of housing in markets where a lack of supply has driven up rental prices at alarming rates
That’s good news for Los Angeles homeowners who have constructed or tried to construct such units in recent years. In February, a judge ruled that the city had been improperly permitting accessory dwellings for years, throwing the legal status of hundreds of the residences into question.
Eventually, the City Council agreed to grandfather in the improperly permitted dwellings, while recommitting to an old set of requirements for the second units. However, a December 30 memo from the Planning Department makes clear that those rules are now in conflict with the state law and should no longer apply”
Sources: Curbed LA, “New state reules make it easier to build in-law units in Los Angeles” –, “New Law Makes It Easier For Flats in Los Angeles” –, “Crazy-high rent, record-low homeownership, and over-crowing: California has a plan to solve the housing crisis, but not without a fight.” – California Department of Housing & Community Development, Accessory Dwelling Unit Memorandum dated December 2016

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