Posted March, 2023
Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) and Junior Accessory Dwelling Units (JADUs), both commonly referred to as Granny Flats, In-Law Units, or Guest Houses, have become very popular for many reasons:
As of 2023, the State of California continues to pass new ADU laws lifting restrictions and making it easier and more affordable to build Accessory Dwelling Units. Because of the new laws, California ADU construction has surged. As of last year, ADUs constituted roughly one in seven homes permitted in California. Here are some of the highlights of the new ADU laws that went into effect in January 2023:
Assembly Bill 2221 now requires all agencies involved with reviewing ADU plans, including planning departments and utility companies, to respond within 60 days of submission of plans. This change will now reduce the time for application review and processing.
AB 2221 also amended the height restrictions as follows:
Previously, setbacks were reduced to four-foot side and rear yards. Now, if a proposed ADU is less than 800 sq. ft., the front setback requirement can no longer prevent the ADU from getting built.
Senate Bill 897 eliminates the restriction regarding non-conforming zoning conditions, building code violations, or unpermitted structures. Prior to SB 897, homeowners were required to have unpermitted structures brought up to current codes, which made California ADU development slower and more costly. SB 897 removes these restrictions unless the unpermitted condition is a health or safety concern.
SB 897 allows fire sprinklers to no longer be required for the main dwelling when permitting an ADU.
In 2022, the California ADU law that gained the most attention was Senate Bill 9. This relates to duplexes and lot splits. SB 9 provides for the ministerial approval of converting existing homes occupied by a homeowner into a duplex if certain eligibility restrictions are satisfied. It also allows a single-family home lot to be split into two lots, and a duplex to be built on each lot, provided that the initial home is occupied by the owner as their primary residence for at least three years.
Some key points of SB 9:
Please keep in mind there are exceptions and restrictions to SB 9 that need to be fully understood.
Summary of Recent ADU Laws in California:
AB 68 allows landlords and homeowners to add 2 more units – an ADU and a Junior Accessory Dwelling Unit (JADU) – on any residential lot. This means you can legally create a triplex on every single lot in the state according to the new ADU laws in California.
Additional units can be added to existing multi-family buildings like apartment complexes. Building owners can convert any non-habitable rooms, like attics, basements, garages, etc. into legal additional units.
Under AB 68, municipalities will be required to approve the following:
To further remove barriers to the approval of ADU plans in California in 2023, various state laws prohibit local governments from imposing the following:
Please note that this summary is based solely on the State Ordinance. Therefore, it is important to note that each City and County will release its own ADU rules and regulations in response to the new state laws. Some Cities and Counties may defer the effective date or challenge the state through legal channels in order to meet their own codes. Variations of these State rules will differ in each city and county.
Given the complexity of the new laws and the resulting City or County interpretations, it is even more critical that you consult a licensed architect who knows the in’s and out’s of the new ADU laws in California – and EZ Plans is here for you!
We are a full-service architecture firm with experienced, licensed architects who are experts on the rules and regulations for both new ADUs and ADU conversions. We provide transparent and instant pricing for your ADU plans. Contact us today to start designing a floor plan and permit your ADU.