Another win for accessory dwelling units (ADUs) as Assembly Bill (AB) 2221 and Senate Bill (SB) 897 loosen the ADU restrictions even further — making it a little easier for ADU dreamers.

Beginning January 1st of 2023, when a homeowner submits an ADU permit application, local agencies need to:

  • be objective when imposing standards;
  • approve or deny an application within the same time frame; and
  • when denying an ADU application, respond with written comments about the ADU’s defects and how to fix them.

Under the new laws, detached ADUs may include a detached garage.

Further, local agencies may not impose ADU height restrictions lower than 18 feet when the ADU is:

  • located within half-a-mile walking distance to a major transit stop or high-quality transit corridor; or
  • detached and located on a lot with an existing multi-family, multi-story residence.

Local agencies may not impose a height limitation lower than 25 feet when the ADU is attached to a primary residence.

In addition, local agencies may not deny an ADU permit application for an unpermitted ADU constructed before January 1, 2018, unless the violation threatens the health and safety of the public or occupants.

Other prohibitions include:

  • establishing limits on front setbacks;
  • imposing parking standards on an ADU;
  • requiring an existing primary dwelling to install fire sprinklers when constructing an ADU; and
  • denying an ADU permit application to correct nonthreatening local issues, such as nonconforming zoning

Reducing ADU permitting hurdles is one step in the right direction as Californians try to navigate the housing crisis with the implementation of more ADUs.

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Related article:

New California law to further loosen ADU restrictions