A Guide to Changes to California’s ADU Laws (2023)

Why have the ADU Laws been changed?

Recently, changes were made to Californian ADU laws to incentivize property owners and developers to add these to their existing properties.

The California Legislature found that, among other things, ADUs and JADUs (junior accessory dwelling units) provide additional rental housing in areas that are perfect for single family and multifamily living.

As a result, they have been working to reduce the complexity of the process, encouraging the development of more ADUs to address the region’s evolving housing needs.

Through reducing the legal restrictions on ADUs and streamlining the approval process, homeowners and developers are encouraged to build more ADUs. This has the additional effect of providing more comparatively reasonably priced rentals for the residents of California.

Summary of Changes

The most recent round of changes came from several bills, all in the name of making ADUs more accessible to California residents. Here are some of the key changes for property owners and developers.

AB 345

The amendments to AB 345 have made it possible for ADUs to be sold separately from the home in some cases. Cases include when the ADU was built by a qualified not-for-profit, or is to be held as owner-occupied low-income housing for 45 years.

Note: this doesn’t apply to JADUs.

AB 3182

Amendments to AB 3182 address the approvals process and are designed to make the process more efficient from start to finish.

Primarily, if an ADU or JADU has not been approved by the local agency within 60 days, it will be deemed approved by default. You can now also gain approval for both an ADU and a JADU per lot, rather than needing to select one or the other. It also allows for the leasing or rental of ADUs or JADUs in common interest developments, and ensures 25% of these will be allocated as rentals.

AB 68, AB 881 and SB 13

Amendments to these bills are similarly intended to remove barriers that many people run into when looking to build ADUs.

Changes to these bills are more numerous and include:

  • removing minimum lot sizes for ADU builds,
  • clarifying that ADU requirements can be based on sewerage access, water access and impacts on traffic and public safety,
  • eliminating owner-occupancy requirements,
  • making it impossible for local agencies to enforce a maximum size of less than 850 square feet,
  • allowing converted ADUs (such as renovated garages or carports) to go without replacing on-street parking,
  • reduces the maximum approval wait time from 120 days to 60 days,
  • reduces impact fees,
  • allows JADUs to be constructed within the walls of an existing residence,
  • as well as explicitly clarifying some gray areas that caused confusion to some developers and builders.

AB 587, AB 670 and AB 671

Finally, the changes to the following bills are more related to Health & Safety law that sometimes prohibited the construction of accessory dwelling units.

The amendment to AB 587 creates an exception similar to AB 345, where some ADUs can be sold separately to the original dwelling so long as they adhere to ordinance that specifies the ADU is built by a non-profit for low-income housing.

AB 670 removes restrictions that would’ve unreasonably restricted ADU construction on a lot zoned for single family residential use.

Finally, revisions to AB 671 incentivizes the construction of ADUs for very-low through to moderate level income tenants, as well as pushing California’s HCD to collate resources to better facilitate the construction of these lower income ADUs.

At G.J. Gardner Homes, we’ve got years of experience in building ADUs. If any of the above is unclear, we can help you to work your way through the approvals process, ensuring all is above board and complies to local regulations.

Many areas in California now offer permit ready ADU plans, free for public use. We’ve collated some links below!

Contact us today if you’re interested in building an accessory dwelling unit on your lot.

5 reasons to Build your Home in California

California is world-renowned for its laid back lifestyle, natural beauty and phenomenal weather. From the rugged coastline of Big Sur to the towering Redwoods of the North, California’s world famous landscapes have set the tone for life in the Golden State.

Just like its environment, California living is defined by an openness, peace and vibrancy while remaining an epicentre for tech., culture and industry. This ideal balance makes California home to the dream way of life. In fact, California’s sunny weather, pristine landscape and relaxed pace has made its residents some of the happiest people in the country.

If you’re looking to escape the hustle city life and extended winters without losing touch of opportunity and cosmopolitan living, California could be the place for you. Here’s the top 5 reasons we’ve fallen for Californian living.

Why We Love California Living

The Weather

California is celebrated for its truly perfect weather, with 278 days a year being sunny. What’s even better is that their lifestyle takes any opportunity to let the light in. From home design to outdoor activities, California living provides ample opportunity to soak up the sun.

More sunlight and warmer days is proven to boost your health and manage your stress. Without the inconvenience of bad weather, the California way of life lets you enjoy easier days for over half the year.

The great outdoors

From orange sand deserts to some of the country’s best beaches, California boasts a diverse range of different landscapes, all within one state. Find the perfect break along the 840 miles of coastline or summit exciting hikes in one of the state’s nine national parks.

The state’s best cities provide perfect proximity to these world class natural wonders. As outdoor enthusiasts, California home designs are committed to making the most out of the surrounding outdoors. With an emphasis on indoor-outdoor, windows and open plans, California living celebrates its landscape whether you’re outside or in.

Cost of living in California

While California living is reported as one of the ten most expensive states in the country, California offers an unmatched experience in comparison to the list’s other locations.

In comparison to other states with high costs of living, such as Hawaii, Masachusetts, Oregon, Maryland, Connecticut and Alaska, California offers both adventure and industry – rather than one or the other. Home to the country’s fastest growing tech center and agricultural market, California’s cost of living is better value than most.

The things to do in California

With so much on offer, you’re unlikely to ever get bored in this West Coast hub. California has something for everyone with plenty of fun for families, couples and singles to enjoy.

It’s home to some of the world’s most coveted weekend trips from Big Sur road trips up the beautiful coastline to camping on Lake Tahoe. You can even escape the outdoors and explore the museums and historical centres of San Francisco or the 60s glamour of Palm Springs. Brimming with bucket list items, California residents aren’t short of things to do.

Big Sur

Home Design

Californian homes celebrate natural materials like wood, stone, and glass to create a one-of-a-kind look. And due to the state’s vibrant cultural identity, many of these rustic elements have also been sourced from the state’s rich heritage. As an exciting hotspot of history, design and culture, Californian homes offer a beautiful feel and flair ranging from Spanish-inspired tile work to the organic shapes of Mexican adobe.

With organic materials, bohemian decor and minimal modernist features, Californian homes are designed to be spacious, classic and inviting. Under the influence of their open and relaxed identity, Californian living has seen most of today’s homes use an open plan to form its central living hub and lead effortlessly into the alfresco. Indoor-outdoor living encourages you to get outdoors more by making it more accessible and usable and with the perfect weather to enjoy it as well.

Best Places to Live in California

G.J. Gardner Homes is building across many of California’s leading communities and cities. From Sacramento to San Diego, our offices offer our clients access to some of the best places to live in California.

Explore our California home builders now and discover the best locations the state has to offer.