GREAT NEWS: NEW CALIFORNIA BUILDING CODE IS RELEASED – TWO ADUS ARE PERMITTED ON ONE SINGLE-FAMILY PROPERTY

SayHomee
SayHomee
a year ago
Great news! New California Building Code is released. Building codes might not be a big deal to most of us, but next year’s new building code is something that will benefit us tremendously.

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With the fast economic growth in California, many people decided to settle down here, which makes housing shortage an urgent problem in California. Gavin Newson promised 3.5 million new homes by 2025 to solve the housing crisis. One way to achieve this ambitious goal is through building ADUs (Accessory Dwelling Units).

Since 2017, California lawmakers passed several bills to simplify the approval process of ADU, but high cost and strict policies in some cities still impede the building of new ADUs. In response, Governor Newson recently signed 5 bills that further remove the local restraints on ADU constructions and encouraged single-family and multi-family property owners to build much-needed additional ADUs.

As the most effective method to solve housing shortage, many of you may ask what ADU is, what its features and advantages are. And I would like to explain more about ADU and the coming code in detail for you, to solve your confusion on building and rebuilding. If you have any questions, feel free to visit our website: https://www.sayhomee.com/

ADU stands for Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs), which provides one or more people with complete and independent living facilities. It is not only an innovative but also an affordable choice for most people. It adds value and space to your properties, can be rented as Airbnb or independently. According to partial statistics, the rental price of ADU is $2,000 to $3,000 per month in 2018, which almost equals the monthly income of a low-income individual. As to property tax, the area of ADU is included in property and total construction is, thus, the owners do not need to pay extra property tax.

Building ADUs should be a priority.

California new code about ADU

Our heroes: AB 68 and AB 881 – (simplify the approval process of ADU)

Bills AB 68 and AB 881 were introduced by Assembly Members Philip Ting and Richard Bloom. Due to the goals of these bills align, they are consolidated into one, to streamline and improve the ADU process to facilitate the development and construction of ADU. These bills will go into effect on January 01, 2020. There are five key points:

  • Permits for ADU and JADU to be added to existing single-family and multi-family homes must be either approved or denied within 60 days (rather than 120 days under existing laws)
    Note: It shortens the approval time of building permit. Currently, the approval time is around 3 to 4 months for many ADUs. Under the new law, the time cuts to at least 50% than before.
  • ADU application can be submitted before the new primary building is approved, but the ADU permit still needs to be ministerially issued.
    Note: It further reduces the correlation between existing buildings to ADU and gives it more freedom.
  • The cities and counties can set requirements on minimal and maximum construction areas on ADU. The construction area should not be less than 850 square feet, if an ADU contains an additional bedroom, it should be no less than 1,000 square feet.
    Note: Some ADUs are only 300 sf or even less. This code lays a solid foundation for the living environment of ADUs and strengthens the individuality of ADUs to make them better for rental or living.
  • They would prohibit the imposition of limits that affect the construction of ADUs, such as lot coverage, floor area ratio, open space, and minimum lot size.
    Note: To prohibit cities from limiting the area of ADUs out of all kinds of concerns.
  • They prohibit the city councils’ requirements to correct current qualifications as the condition to approve ADU permit.
    Note: Many cities may use ADU as excuses to ask for the owners to make reconstructions to the existing properties. These bills limit such rights of the cities and boost the confidence of applicants.

And most importantly, subject to certain requirements, the bills require the approval of individual homes and mix-use projects, for example:

  • An ADU (independent or attached) and a junior ADU to single-family homes in existence or to be constructed;
  • Multiple ADUs to existing multi-family homes;
  • Existing multi-family homes can have up to two independent ADUs;
  • Attention: It is unnecessary to replace off-street parking if a garage is converted or removed to build a new ADU;
  • Besides, the city councils are prohibited from imposing parking standards for ADUs within 1/2 mile of public transportation.

Examples

To make it easy to understand, we list a few cities as examples:

San Francisco

Previous Law

New Law

Amount of ADUs

One ADU is permitted to each lawful home.

AB68 and AB881 update: Covert existing space to build ADUs, you may qualify for one ADU and one JADU.

Lot size

The minimum lot size is 2,500 square feet. Any smaller lots can only be developed upon calculation and approval.

AB68 and AB881 update: According to ordinance and zoning, the properties shall not be subject to the minimum lot size requirement.

ADU size

The usage of ADUs is permitted to all homes, can be converted or built by the standards of different areas. The local agencies shall set a maximum size of ADUs.

AB68 and AB881 update: The maximum size of one-bedroom ADUs is 850 square feet, and 1,000 square feet for two-bedroom ADUs.

Setbacks

Front, rear, and sides of the setbacks depend on the nature of the lot and housing density. Under no circumstances should you construct new buildings within 25% of the setbacks (or at least 15 feet) (for example, if your lot is 100 square feet, the setback is 25 square feet). Depending on the purpose of the lot, the backyard can take up to 45% of the entire lot.

AB68 and AB881 update: Detached ADUs are subject to no less than 4 feet rear yard and side setbacks.

Parking

Although one parking space is permitted by Ordinance to each home in most communities, Section 150 (c) implies that more spaces are permitted when the overall number increases two or more. A single ADU shall not be allowed to any additional parking space anywhere in the city. In 150 (e) and 161, any Class 1 bicycle parking spaces (indoor, safety, and shelter) can reduce the overall parking space. You may need to apply for additional bicycle parking spaces for ADUs. New state code waived such parking requirements if the property is within 0.5 miles from public transit.

AB68 and AB881 update: Properties converted from existing garages are not subject to parking requirements.

Ownership

The unit shall not be intended to sell separately from the primary property. Rental is permitted. (Federal requirement)

SB13 updates: The owner occupancy requirement for ADU shall be expired statewide for 5 years.

Allowed Zones

ADUs are allowed in San Francisco. From 2019, a land is permitted to ADUs if the residential use is permitted by the ordinance.

AB68 and AB881 update: All single-family and multi-family areas shall be permitted to ADUs statewide.

San Mateo

Previous Law

New Law

Amount of ADUs

One ADU is allowed per lawful home

AB68 and AB881 update: Covert existing space to build ADUs, you may qualify for one ADU and one JADU.

Lot size

Depending on FAR

AB68 and AB881 update: According to ordinance and zoning, the properties shall not be subject to the minimum lot size requirement.

ADU size

The floor area of accessory units shall not exceed six hundred and forty (640) square feet, including the loft and basement area defined in Section 27.04.200. applicable to the ground floor, but the total floor area and construction area shall not exceed the maximum floor area. The area of the primary accessory unit shall not exceed five hundred (500) square feet, including the loft and basement area defined in Section 27.04.200. applicable to zone planning, but the total floor area and construction area shall not exceed the maximum floor area.

AB68 and AB881 update: The maximum size of one-bedroom ADUs is 850 square feet, and 1,000 square feet for two-bedroom ADUs.

Setbacks

Setbacks and zoning regulations. Accessory units (attached and detached) shall be treated as part of the primary property and be subject to the same requirements and standards as the basic zoning plan, including any coverage, setbacks, and heights. As to the accessory units converted from existing garages, there is no additional setback. As to the accessory units built on top of a garage, the rear and side setbacks shall retreat at least five (5) feet.

AB68 and AB881 update: Detached ADUs are subject to no less than 4 feet rear yard and side setbacks.

Parking

General requirement. Each ADU is equipped with one (1) standard off-street parking, with one (1) bedroom, for each additional bedroom, one (1) more off-street parking space is permitted. Waiver: ADUs within half (1/2) mile of public transit are waived from parking spaces. The parking spaces of ADUs can locate within one third (1/3) mile of the rear side of the property, including partial rear yard and side setbacks. The parking spaces shall not locate outside the one third (1/3) of rear yard of the property, in the front and rear of other setbacks.

AB68 and AB881 update: Properties convert existing garage are not subject to parking requirements.

Ownership

Sales are prohibited and rents are limited. Owner occupancy: one of the units on the land should be occupied by the owner, subject to the record, and should be submitted to the city before the issuance of the construction permit, indicating that besides one or more people on the record, other residents can only occupy one unit.

SB13 updates: The owner-occupancy requirement for ADU shall be expired statewide for 5 years.

Allowed Zones

ADUs are allowed. From 2019, land is permitted to ADUs if the residential use is permitted by the ordinance.

AB68 and AB881 update: All single-family and multi-family areas shall be permitted to ADUs statewide.

San Jose

Previous Law

New Law

Amount of ADUs

One ADU is allowed per lawful home

AB68 and AB881 update: Covert existing space to build ADUs, you may qualify for one ADU and one JADU.

Lot size

The minimum lot size is 3,000 square feet. Any smaller lots can only be developed upon calculation and approval.

AB68 and AB881 update: According to ordinance and zoning, the properties shall not be subject to the minimum lot size requirement.

ADU size

The ADU size is determined by land size: (a) for lands of 3,000 to 5,444 sf, ADUs of 600 sf are allowed. (b) for lands of 5,444 to 9,000 sf, ADUs of 700 sf are allowed. (c) for lands of 9,001 to 10,000 sf, ADUs of 800 sf are allowed. (d) for lands of 10,001, ADUs of 900 sf are allowed.

AB68和AB881更新:AB68 and AB881 update: The maximum size of one-bedroom ADUs is 850 square feet, and 1,000 square feet for two-bedroom ADUs.

Setbacks

Same as zoning, and subject to the following. If an ADU takes 5 feet or 50% of the rear setback or less, the setback of a single floor can be reduced. Over the garage - rear and side setbacks should be 5 feet. Garage conversion – if the ADU is converted from an existing garage, no additional setbacks are needed. Riverbank – for land equals to or over 1/2 acre, at least 100 feet setback is required.

AB68和AB881更新:AB68 and AB881 update: Detached ADUs are subject to no less than 4 feet rear yard and side setbacks.

Parking

Unless an ADU is eligible for a waiver, otherwise an additional space is required besides the parking space for the primary unit. (Below is a waiver list) 1. A parking space must be on a dustless surface. 2. The parking space shall be outside the front and side of the property, but if the parking space is located on a garage driveway of at least 18 feet, it can be at the rear.

AB68 and AB881 update: Properties converted from the existing garage are not subject to parking requirements.

Ownership

The unit shall not be intended to sell separately from the primary property. Rental is permitted. (Federal requirement)

SB13 updates: The owner-occupancy requirement for ADU shall be expired statewide for 5 years.

Allowed Zones

ADUs are allowed. From 2019, land is permitted to ADUs if the residential use is permitted by the ordinance.

AB68 and AB881 update: All single-family and multi-family areas shall be permitted to ADUs statewide.

Above terms might be complicated to understand, keep these two summarized points in mind:

  • If you were ineligible to build an ADU in the back yard before, you may be eligible now.
  • Even if you have already had an ADU, an additional one may be permitted as well.

If you have any further questions, please contact our architects.

Updated on 03/24/2020: ADU Code links

Fremont Accessory Dwelling Unit Fact Sheet (update codes of 2020)
Sunnyvale Accessory Dwelling Units (update codes of 2020)
Santa Clara Department of Planning and Development - Accessory Dwellings Units
ADU FAQ (update codes of 2020)
San Jose ADU Universal Checklist
City of San Jose - ADU ORDINANCE & UPDATES (update codes of 2020)
Redwood City ACCESSORY DWELLING ORDINANCE (update codes of 2020)
ADU Questions - DRAFT (January 21, 2020)
Mountain View ACCESSORY DWELLING UNIT REGULATIONS
Code of Ordinances - DIVISION 10. - ACCESSORY DWELLING UNITS
Cupertino ADU DEVELOPMENT STANDARDS American Legal - Site Development Regulations for Accessory Dwelling Units
Palo Alto Ordinance No. 5489 (update codes of 2020)
Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs)
Daly City City of Daly City - Secondary Units, New Construction and Legalization of Existing Secondary Units
San Francisco Accessory Dwelling Units
ADU Handbook 2019-01

Related link

If you would like to read about an actual ADU case and learn how to make ADU analysis as a property owner, please check out the article below:
Case Study – 712 sq. ft detached ADU