California Granny Flat Frustration: Lobbying, New Laws and a Long Wait

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Publication: San Jose Mercury

Apple engineer Santosh Kumar emptied his savings account to buy a $1.5 million home with a backyard apartment in Mountain View.

His plan: fix up the 70-year-old unit for his in-laws.

After two years and dozens of conversations with city officials, he’s still battling to upgrade his property.

But this month, new laws governing older granny flats will give him new options to renovate his property. The laws give owners more time to fix-up old backyard apartments and build units with fewer fees and city restrictions. Housing advocates see ADUs as a relatively quick way to add apartments as the state is mired in an epic housing shortage.


Another measure, AB 68, authored by Assemblyman Phil Ting, D-San Francisco, allows multiple units and limits a city’s permitting time from 120 to 60 days. It also bans minimum lot sizes for construction, requiring replacement parking and other restrictions on building size.