Easing The California Housing Demand: A New California Law for Adding Second Units

Signed into California law last year, effective January 1, 2017 is a statewide law allowing the creation of 2nd units, not exceeding 1200 square feet, in otherwise single family and multifamily zones.  This bill, AB2299 (Bloom) imposes a state-mandated local program, and which deletes previously existing additional space parking requirements.  Existing driveway parking may now meet the parking requirements under this law.  This is significant for some property owners who had the space to build a unit, but did not have a large enough lot to meet new parking requirements as well.
Now referred to as Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs), there are certain guidelines that a local agency may create but which may not be more restrictive than the new law, including the following:

  • The unit is not intended for sale separate from the primary residence and may be rented.
  • The lot is zoned for single-family or multifamily use.
  • The accessory dwelling unit is either attached to the existing dwelling or located within the living area of the existing dwelling or detached from the existing dwelling and located on the same lot as the existing dwelling.
  • The increased floor area of an attached accessory dwelling unit shall not exceed 50 percent of the existing living area.
  • The total area of floorspace for a detached accessory dwelling unit shall not exceed 1,200 square feet.
  • No passageway shall be required in conjunction with the construction of an accessory dwelling unit.
  • No setback shall be required for an existing garage that is converted to a accessory dwelling unit, and a setback of no more than five feet from the side and rear lot lines shall be required for an accessory dwelling unit that is constructed above a garage.
  • Local building code requirements that apply to detached dwellings, as appropriate.
  • Approval by the local health officer where a private sewage disposal system is being used, if required.
  • Parking requirements for accessory dwelling units shall not exceed one parking space per unit or per bedroom. These spaces may be provided as tandem parking on an existing driveway.
  •  Off­street parking shall be permitted in setback areas in locations determined by the local agency or through tandem parking, unless specific findings are made that parking in setback areas or tandem parking is not feasible based upon specific site or regional topographical or fire and life safety conditions, or that it is not permitted anywhere else in the jurisdiction.
  • When a garage, carport, or covered parking structure is demolished in conjunction with the construction of an accessory dwelling unit, and the local agency requires that those off­street parking spaces be replaced, the replacement spaces may be located in any configuration on the same lot as the accessory dwelling unit, including, but not limited to, as covered spaces, uncovered spaces, or tandem spaces, or by the use of mechanical automobile parking lifts.
  • The ordinance shall not be considered in the application of any local ordinance, policy, or program to limit residential growth.
 This is a chance to ease the housing situation for family members, or for someone to add on a second unit for income without having to purchase a new property.  It's especially helpful for those who want to live individually in a residential area, i.e., Belmont Heights in Long Beach which already hosts some older residential properties with units, without the ambiance of a large apartment building.

Update July 22, 2017:  The City of Long Beach is still in the process of developing the code requirements that must match these units (i.e., fire and safety, certain construction requirements, etc.), but has also made ineligible building ADUs in the City's parking impacted zones.  The map for these zones is available on the City's website.

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