Granny flats, casita, accessory dwelling units, and homes with a guest house are now becoming more popular in California due to various reasons especially with favorable laws. But what is really driving this demand are families’ desire for multigenerational living and a need for income from a helper unit to afford to continue living in the state.
As California, the nation’s most populated state, continues to grow, so does its housing shortages. This drives the cost of California housing up, affecting affordability and those who lack resources to locate and secure suitable dwellings.
In an effort to address these shortages, and also to help create viable rental income opportunities for California homeowners, the state has passed a series of laws which make it easier for California cities, municipalities and, or counties, to allow accessory dwelling units to be added within homeowners’ existing properties. Their ordinances must be less restrictive than the state’s mandates.
Accessory dwelling units (ADU) may also be referred to in California as granny flats, guest houses, mother-in-law apartments, in-law suites, casitas, etc, depending on local custom.
The California laws that have lenient restrictions on building and permitting new ‘granny flats’/ accessory dwellings units take effect on January 1, 2017.
And as an update, a new California law (SB 1226) that took effect on January 1, 2019 will now make it easier to legalize an un-permitted accessory dwelling unit (ADU), granny flat, residential unit / living space on a property.
Please contact your local government agency to get more details on how these new laws affect your property and your ability to create an Accessory Dwelling Unit, or Junior Accessory Dwelling Unit.
Favorable California new laws on Granny Flats and Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs)
SB 1226 : Building standards/ Building Permits – Retroactive Permitting of Additions, Granny Flats, etc. effective January 1, 2019
Source Coast News: “The law will become effective on Jan. 1, 2019, allowing accessory dwelling units — also called granny flats, in-law units, above-garage studios and backyard cottages — to be permitted based on the codes in effect at the time the units were built.” Read the entire bill here.
Retroactive permitting of existing ADUS, granny flats, garage conversions, additions, etc. in California will hopefully provide much needed housing inventory.
SB 1069 California Land Use: Zoning
Read the entire bill here (for ease of reading, click Bill Analysis and review the most current entry):
This law prohibits California local governments to require that accessory dwelling units have separate utility connections, or to charge a connection fee, as long as the accessory dwelling unit (ADU) is enclosed in the existing space of a single family home or accessory structure. This law also relaxes mandated additional parking requirements which prevented the creation of ADUs in many locations. SB 1069 requires municipalities to designate areas where ADUs are permitted, limit their ability to approve on a case-by-case basis (called discretionary approvals) and require them to review and respond to applications within 120 days of submittal. This new legislation authored by California Senator Bob Wieckowski does not require cities and counties to adopt ordinances specific to their areas but does allow them 60 days to develop their own ordinances that comply with the state laws.
SB 1069 was approved by the California Governor on September 27, 2016. Filed with Secretary of State September 27, 2016.
Here are examples of North County San Diego’s accessory dwelling unit (ADU) ordinances in response to SB 1069:
- City of Carlsbad, CA Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) Ordinance Amendment
- City of Encinitas, CA Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) Ordinance Amendment
- City of Escondido CA Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) Ordinance Amendment
- City of Oceanside, CA Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) Ordinance Amendment
- City of Vista, CA Accessory Dwelling Unit Ordinance Amendment
- County of San Diego Accessory Dwelling Unit General Guidelines Revised on February 12, 2019
- County of San Diego Accessory Dwelling Main Page
AB 2299 California Land Use: Housing: 2nd Units
Read the entire bill here (for ease of reading, click Bill Analysis and review the most current entry);
This law stipulates that local ordinances cannot be more restrictive than the state law. The law also prohibits local government from adopting ordinances that totally prevent ADUs, with few exceptions. In addition, this law limits setback requirements, provides for certain types of garage modifications to create an ADU and limits the size to be no more than 50% of the existing living area.
AB 2299 was approved by the California Governor on September 27, 2016. Filed with Secretary of State September 27, 2016.
AB 2406 – Housing: Junior Accessory Dwelling Units
Read the entire bill here (for ease of reading, click Bill Analysis and review the most current entry):
This law allows local government to create ordinance for permitted Junior Accessory Dwelling Units (JADU) in single family zones. This law limits JADUs to no more than 500 square feet in size, be constructed within the existing walls of the single family structure and must include an existing bedroom. The JADU must also have a separate entrance from the main home’s and enter directly into the JADU’s living room. The accessory unit is also required to have its own efficiency kitchen with a sink, counter space and cooking appliance.
AB 2406 was approved by the California Governor on September 28, 2016. Filed with Secretary of State September 28, 2016.
Homes with Guest House, Accessory Dwelling Units, Casita, etc
- North County San Diego homes with casita, accessory dwelling unit (ADU), granny flat, or houses with guest house
- East County San Diego homes with casita, accessory dwelling unit (ADU), casita, granny flat, or houseswith guest house
- South County San Diego homes with casita, accessory dwelling unit (ADU), casita, granny flat, or houses with guest house
- Metro San Diego homes with casita, accessory dwelling unit (ADU), casita, granny flat, houses with guest house
- All San Diego County homes with casita, accessory dwelling unit (ADU), casita, granny flat, or houses with guest house
- Nearby Orange County homes with casita, accessory dwelling unit (ADU), casita, granny flat, or houses with guest house
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Homes with Guest House, ADUs, separate guest house, attached granny flat, etc. in San Diego County Near Me
Homes with Guest House, ADUs, separate guest house, attached granny flat, etc. in Orange County Near Me
San Diego California Granny Flats News and Article
- San Diego County waive granny flat fees as way to ease housing crisis in unincorporated communities- January 9, 2019 – San Diego County News Center
- City of San Diego California shrinks ‘granny flat’ fees to spur construction amid housing crisis – May 1, 2018 – San Diego Union Tribune
- Encinitas Offers Homeowners Pre-Approved Granny Flat Plans to Save on Permit Fees – NBC San Diego
- Policy Research –
- California Department of Housing and Community Development Accessory Dwelling Units – December 2016 Memorandum
- California Eases Restrictions on Granny Units – Read the article on Mercury News
- Crazy-high rent, record-low homeownership, and overcrowding: California has a plan to solve the housing crisis, but not without a fight – Read article on Business Insider
- The Genius of Granny Flats – Interview with Gary London, president of The London Group Realty Advisors – Read the article on San Diego Magazine
- How to solve California’s housing shortage? Build ‘granny flats’ in homeowners’ backyards – Read the Article on LA Times
- It will be soon be easier to add granny flats in San Diego – Read Article on San Diego Union Tribune
- San Diego eases rules on building granny flats – July 2, 2003 – Read Article on San Diego Union Tribune
Videos to Watch: Accessory Dwelling Units in California
Are Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) Right For You?
Source: San Francisco Planning
Accessory Dwelling Units, or ADUs, are also known as secondary units, in-law units, granny flats, or cottages. ADUs are generally developed using an underutilized space; such as a parking garage, storage room, or attic, and they play an important role in our housing supply. San Francisco first adopted its ADU program in 2014 for select districts, and as of September 4, 2016, San Francisco’s Accessory Dwelling Unit program is available Citywide
Good or Bad Idea? Backyard Granny Pods
Source: The List TV Show
Videos: All about ADUs (accessory dwelling units)
In this video 30X40 Design Workshop reviews the the accessory dwelling unit (ADU) which is an additional, self-contained home located either within or adjacent to an existing house. They’re also known as in-law units, granny flats, multigenerational homes, and laneway houses. The author also discusses the permitting procedures, restrictions, and general planning framework for the ADU.
Source: 30X40 Design Workshop
Lennar builds San Diego new homes with a casita or attached guest house
Sterling Heights by Lennar: Featuring estate-style homes from 4,283 to 6,450 sq ft, many of these new San Diego homes with up to 5 bedrooms and 5.5 bathrooms have a guest house with its own private entrance. Priced from $1,800,000s to $2 Million. Questions? Text or Call 760-798-9024
Prefab Homes as Possible Accessory Dwelling Units
Modern ADU Designs from Dwell
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- San Diego 55 Plus Communities Homes For Sale
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