Los Angeles – Backyards and surplus government land are now prime real estate for the development of more housing units in California, thanks to two proposals by Assemblymember Phil Ting (D-San Francisco) signed by Governor Newsom today. AB 68 eases local red tape to encourage a greater number of homeowners to build Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs), commonly known as backyard cottages, “in-law units” or “granny flats,” on their properties. The other bill, AB 1486, prioritizes construction of affordable housing projects when local public land is no longer needed.
“One of the quickest ways to ramp up our housing supply is to build more Accessory Dwelling Units. They also enable homeowners to be part of the solution in helping us address California’s unprecedented housing crisis,” said Ting. “Regarding surplus land, I can’t think of a better use for property the government no longer needs than to build affordable housing on it.”
By some estimates, California is nearly four million units short of meeting its housing demand. After the state relaxed some barriers to ADU construction in 2017, there was an immediate boost to their numbers. Los Angeles, for example, has approved more than 10,500 ADUs since the change, compared to only a few hundred ADUs in years prior. But some obstacles remain. Ting’s bill would:
- Speed up the approval process to 60 days;
- Prohibit restrictive local requirements pertaining to lot size and parking; and,
- Allow more types of units, such as units in multi-family dwellings, to be approved with less bureaucratic review.
The Governor also signed other ADU bills that:
- Reduce local government construction fees;
- Suspend local rules for five years requiring the homeowner to live on site; and,
- Forbid homeowners associations from banning ADUs.
“California YIMBY is proud to have sponsored AB 68, which will create many thousands of new homes each year,” said Brian Hanlon, President and CEO of California YIMBY. “This bill empowers homeowners to help end the housing crisis by building Accessory Dwelling Units, which fit seamlessly into existing neighborhoods. These granny flats help keep multi-generational families together, and enable homeowners to make some extra money while providing more affordable homes for people who need them. We’re grateful to Asm. Ting for his strong leadership on this issue.”
According to the Terner Center for Housing Innovation at UC Berkeley, applications for ADU permits have jumped significantly since the Legislature eased some regulations a few years ago, but homeowners still face challenges when it comes to building codes, limiting the full potential of ADUs.
Under AB 1486, Ting’s surplus land legislation gives more affordable housing projects the first right of refusal to build on public surplus land, taking advantage of strategically located sites next to transit, schools and jobs that have remained dormant for decades.
AB 68 & AB 1486 will take effect January 1, 2020.