On August 31, 2016, the California State Legislature passed Assembly Bill 2299 which amends Government Code section 65852.2 relating to second units on residential houses.   The law relaxes some of the impediments to building secondary or accessory dwelling units and limits the city or county’s ability to reject such units.  The term “accessory dwelling unit” is defined as an attached or a detached residential dwelling unit which provides complete independent living facilities for one or more persons.  It includes permanent provisions for living, sleeping, eating, cooking and sanitation on the same parcel as the single-family dwelling is situated.  Accessory dwelling units also include efficiency units (H&S Code § 17958.1) and manufactured homes (H&S Code § 18007).  The purpose of the law is to boost the state’s affordable housing supply in a time when the state is facing a critical housing shortage.

The new law, which goes into effect on January 1, 2017, will ease existing restrictions primarily by:

  • Requiring that the local agency accept the application and approve or disapprove the application ministerially without discretionary review within 120 days after receiving the application;
  • Reducing or eliminating parking requirements for second units;
  • Not requiring a passageway into a second unit;
  • Not requiring fire sprinklers if the primary residence does not require fire sprinklers;
  • Prohibiting the local agency from charging new residential usage fees for utilities;
  • Prohibiting the local agency from requiring a new or separate utility connection directly between the accessory unit and the utility;
  • Existing garages can be converted into an accessory dwelling unit without setback;
  • The floor area of an attached accessory dwelling unit is increased from 30 percent to 50 percent of the living area; however, the total area floor space for a detached accessory dwelling unit shall not exceed 1,200 square feet.

Frankly, this is great news for both property owners who are looking to increase the value of their homes and generate income from their homes and tenants who are looking for affordable housing options.


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