The building process

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.