The deadline for new California state legislation is September 30. Due the recent housing crisis, the state has taken an increasingly active role in overriding local control of housing decisions.
One of the most significant changes this year has been in relax-ing the rules on building accessory dwelling units (ADUs), also called granny flats and mother-in-law units. The new state rules reduce setbacks to four feet and allow the ADU to cover the entire rear yard of the property. Furthermore, ADUs may now be constructed on the property of existing apartment complexes. Mountain View city staff reports that some older complexes in Mountain View are now constructing ADUs on their property.
The state has also loosened or struck down parking requirements associated with ADUs. The park-ing lost when a garage and carport is converted to an ADU need not be replaced. Furthermore, studio ADUs need not have an associated parking space. The upper lim-it on fines for violators of the use of an ADU as a short-term rental have sharply increased. The state expects that the loosening of these regulations and increasing fines will help encourage the construction of more ADUs for long-term rentals and ease the housing crisis.
In general, the state housing law revisions this year have been more modest than many legislators would have liked. 71% of California’s residential parcels are zoned for single-family homes. Senate Bill 1120 would have changed that by allowing up to four units to be built on any single-family lot in the state. This bill passed both the Senate and Assembly but failed to make it to governor’s desk in time. Most likely, a new version of the bill will be crafted next year.