Recent laws that make it easier to build Accessory Dwelling Units, or ADUs (aka granny flats or casitas), have led to a statewide boom in the construction of this popular, affordable type of housing.  California YIMBY is proud to have sponsored two of the most significant ADU laws, AB 68 and AB 881. But a few anti-housing cities are exploiting unintentional loopholes in the law to make it difficult or impossible for homeowners in their jurisdictions to build ADUs.

This bill would clarify state ADU law to make ADUs easier to build, especially in unused commercial space, in “missing middle” housing, and in existing single family homes.

Current state ADU laws allow developers to add ADUs to existing multifamily buildings, but not to proposed multifamily buildings. This means that developers of new multifamily housing must first complete their project – then go back and add ADUs after completion. This bill would clarify the rules to allow builders to propose and build ADUs in new multifamily housing. 

The bill will also contain technical changes to reduce arbitrary decisions at the local level that block ADUs, including the abuse of technical requirements like “front setbacks” or intentional misinterpretations of what qualifies as a “permitting agency.” It would further clarify that permitting agencies need to return comments on a proposed ADU within 60 days, and it would establish that a city could not preclude the construction of an ADU with front setbacks.

Updates: AB 2221 passed the State Senate on 8/29/22 by a vote of 37-1, and passed a concurrence vote in the State Assembly on 8/30/22 by a vote of 74-0. AB 2221 was signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom on 9/28/22. Read our press release on the bill’s signature here.

Authors: Quirk-Silva (D, AD 65)