The Four ADU Bills
The following four proposed Assembly Bills include AB 587, AB 881, AB 68 and AB 69. These bills are designed to modify existing ADU policy in various ways as described below.
Introduced by Friedman, and Quirk-Silva; Co-author: Gallagher
This bill allows sale of an ADU by the homeowner when the ADU is separate from the primary residence, if the ADU meets certain requirements, including:
- The property (including the primary residence) was built or developed by a “qualified non-profit corporation.” This is a nonprofit corporation that has been organized under certain Internal Revenue Code provisions to develop affordable housing.
- The ADU is being sold to a “qualified buyer,” which is defined as a “persons and families of low or moderate income.”
- There are other enforceable restrictions on the use of the property.
The primary issue with this bill revolves around potential problems with the conveyance and tracking of ADU ownership, as well as ensuring the necessary restrictions are recorded on the deed, and qualified buyers are verified. Although the Bill limits the transfer of ADUs to those built by qualified non-profits, there are no provisions for tracking ownership after sale to a qualified buyer or further sales down the road.
Introduced by Bloom
This bill is primarily focused on clarifying ambiguities in the existing statewide ADU laws, and introduces other minor changes. The bill:
- Expands the existing application process to require that local governments administratively approve ADU applications within both residential and mixed use zones. This means ADUs may be proposed in mixed use zones and will be treated the same as those proposed in residential-only districts, although municipalities, through their ADU ordinances, may still regulate the areas where ADUs are allowed.
- Prohibits local requirements from imposing owner-occupant requirements for ADUs and primary residences. This means that both the ADU and primary residence may be occupied by renters.
- Clarifies “public transit” to mean both bus stops and bus routes within a half mile walking distance from the ADU.
The clarifications are useful for the consistent implementation of ADU ordinances.
Introduced by Friedman, Gloria, Grayson, Reyes, Wicks; Co-authors: Nielsen, Skinner, Wiener
AB 68 allows municipalities to adopt ordinances controlling the application and construction of ADUs. However, the bill limits the power of local ordinances to control the size, minimum lot sizes, parking requirements, and application processing time for ADUs. These limitations include:
- The bill prohibits municipalities from imposing size limitations on ADUs if they do not allow ADUs to be at least 800 square feet and 16 feet tall. Any additional lot requirements such as maximum lot coverage sizes, setback standards, floor-area-ratio (FAR), or minimum lot sizes that limit the construction of an ADU of at least 800 square feet are disallowed. However, if these limitations are met, the law states that the total floor area of the ADU may not exceed 50% of the primary residence, and existing law sets the maximum ADU size at 1,200 square feet.
- The bill does not allow ADUs to be sold separately from the primary residence, in contrast to AB 587.
- The bill does allow local ordinances requiring owner-occupancy of either the primary residence or ADU. This is in contrast to AB 881 which disallows owner-occupancy requirements.
- The bill also reduces the amount of time a local government has to review and approve or deny a permit for an ADU from 120 days to 60 days. Applications for ADU permits must be reviewed administratively by local municipalities and cannot require a public hearing.
- The bill continues the existing law that limits municipalities from imposing minimum parking requirements on ADUs if the building is within one-half mile of public transit (stops and routes), within a historic district, if the ADU is part of an existing primary residence (i.e., attached), or within one block of a car share vehicle.
The primary issue with this bill is that the minimum square footage may be too large and removes the flexibility inherent in the definition of “efficiency unit” under the current law (see definition below). The review times may also be too short but at the same time do not necessarily encourage municipalities to streamline the permit process.
Introduced by Ting and Quirk-Silva; Co-authors: Skinner, Wiener
This technical bill allows new small home building standards to be proposed by the Department of Housing and Community Development for ADUs smaller than 800 square feet. This will allow consistent statewide building standards to be applied to ADUs across California. The bill does not outline specifics regarding the building standards to be applied, but could include regulations on building type and materials, required fire safety features, foundation standards, seismic requirements, etc.
Consistent standards are generally helpful, the only proviso being that the standards are not delineated in the bill.
Example of a detached ADU. Photo Credit: California Department of Housing and Community Development