Local Governments to Get More Clarity on ADU Regulations

A measure to update California’s accessory dwelling unit (ADU) statute passed out of the Assembly Local Government Committee this afternoon on a 7-0 vote. AB 881, authored by Assemblymember Richard Bloom (D-Santa Monica), will give homeowners and local governments more clarity on key provisions of the statute and reduce barriers to the construction of these units.

“Accessory dwelling units are an innovative and affordable housing that can help California meet its housing needs,” said Assemblymember Bloom. “Cities that have embraced ADUs have built or permitted thousands of new units, while those resistant to housing construction have pursued loopholes and erected new barriers. AB 881 will help ADU statute to function as intended.”

In 2016, AB 2299 (Bloom) was passed to help ease local and statewide roadblocks to building ADUs. Since the passage of that measure, thousands of units have been built around the state; 2,000 applications were approved within the first ten months of the bill’s passage in Los Angeles alone. Unfortunately, barriers to ADU construction remain. In some instances, cities have rejected garages as existing, convertible structures, citing the lack of explicit reference to these structures in code. Other cities have imposed burdensome owner occupancy requirements that have created uncertainty for the longevity of units and made lenders leery of financing construction.

AB 881 does several things. First, it clarifies several definitions and requirements in ADU statute, including the definition of public transit, an ADU’s distance from transit, and the types of existing structures that can be converted to ADUs. Second, it removes provisions that have given cities unreasonably broad discretion for denying ADU permits. Finally, it removes the owner occupancy requirement in the existing statute, which unfairly subjects ADUs to a requirement not in existence for any other kind of housing.

AB 881 now heads to Assembly Appropriations Committee.

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