Publication: Sacramento Bee
They used to be called granny flats. Now, they’re billed as a secret element to solving California’s housing crisis.
Striving for ways to boost housing, California legislators have sent two controversial bills to the governor that would make it easier for homeowners to turn garages into rental units or build cottage apartments in the backyard.
The effort has become a focal point among California’s infill-housing advocates in urban areas who subscribe to what they call YIMBYism, an acronym for Yes In My Backyard.
One bill, AB 68 by San Francisco Assemblyman Phil Ting, would limit cities’ ability to say no when a homeowner files for permits to build second units that are less than 850 square feet in size and 16 feet in height.
The bill also allows homeowners to add a second in-law unit on the property, turning a single family home lot into a triplex, if there is space to build the units at least 4 feet away from property lines.
The Ting bill also requires cities to mandate ADU rentals be for more than 30 days each, a caveat that essentially means they cannot be used for weekend or short-term rentals like those offered via online booking companies such as Airbnb.
Ting says ADUs may be the fastest way the state can get a slice of affordable housing built. If a city is on board, a property owner can get formal approvals and have the project built and rented in little more than one year.
He believes ADUs will be less controversial in existing neighborhoods than say a new apartment complex, because they will typically be built by residents who know their neighbors, and who often will be renting to a family member or someone they know.
“There is always going to be opposition depending on the neighborhood,” Ting said. “This is different. This is the owner who knows the neighbors.”