Accessory dwelling units (ADUs) have become an integral tool in tackling California’s housing shortage. ADUs cost less to build, offer homeowners a stable source of income and allow inventory to grow in already established neighborhoods.

However, a homeowner who wants to build an ADU often faces numerous hurdles, including outdated zoning and costly permitting fees. As the popularity of ADUs continues to rise in California, legislators are confronting these obstacles and seeking to smooth the path.

Assembly Bill (AB) 1584 is the latest effort to reduce ADU restrictions. This new law makes any covenant or restriction that effectively prohibits the construction or use of ADUs void and unenforceable. However, restrictions which do not unreasonably increase the cost of construction are still permitted.

For example, before permitting an ADU to be constructed, a common interest development (CID) may require there be a sufficient water or sewage source supplied to the property to support an ADU. However, they may not require a minimum lot size. [Calif. Government Code §65852.2(a)(1)]

Loosening zoning laws allows construction to meet demand in areas where it’s most needed. ADUs are a part of the solution to increasing inventory in suburban neighborhoods, where zoning changes are met with the most resistance from not-in-my-backyard (NIMBY) advocates. This law change is yet another step on the long path toward curing our housing shortage. Watch for California’s legislature to continue their efforts to meet demand and ease the housing burden in 2022.

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