State Senate approves Wieckowski bill to reduce barriers on accessory dwelling units

Governor Brown signaled support of SB 1069 as a way to increase affordable housing supply

May 16, 2016

Sacramento – With strong bipartisan support the California State Senate approved a bill today by Senator Bob Wieckowski (D-Fremont) to reduce barriers on building accessory dwelling units and expand the supply of affordable housing throughout California. SB 1069 now goes to the state Assembly.  

“These units cost less to build, are managed by a homeowner, and require no public subsidy,” said Wieckowski, a member of the Senate’s Transportation and Housing Committee.  “In fact, each unit can cost as little as 25 percent as much as a conventional infill development unit.”

But homeowners are often prevented from building this form of affordable housing due to local standards demanding excessive parking requirements or duplicative and costly construction fees.

SB 1069 eases barriers to the construction of accessory dwelling units by: providing exceptions to parking requirements, such as when a unit is located within a half mile of transit; eliminating sprinkler requirements if they are not required in the primary residence; eliminating duplicative construction fees; reducing the time to approve or deny a building permit application from 120 days to 90 days; and requiring ministerial approval for the remodeling of existing structures when they are compliant with building and safety codes.  

In his May Revise released Friday, Governor Jerry Brown signaled his support to speed up local approval of affordable housing through “by right zoning” to encourage more housing near transit and job centers and reduce long polluting commutes.

“His support of legislation like SB 1069, authored by state Sen. Bob Wieckowski and sponsored by the Bay Area Council, has the potential to create hundreds of thousands of affordable accessory units,” said Jim Wunderman, president and CEO of the Bay Area Council.  “We applaud the Governor and the Legislature for taking important first steps on addressing the housing crisis.”

A 2015 University of California, Berkeley Center for Community Innovation study found a substantial market of Bay Area homeowners interested in building an accessory unit, but a significant number were deterred by unnecessary regulatory barriers. 

SB 1069 is among the California Chamber of Commerce job creator bills and is supported by a number of business organizations and individual companies, including the California Association of Realtors, Joint Venture Silicon Valley Network, East Bay Leadership Council, Kaiser Permanente, Facebook, and Virgin America.

Affordable housing advocates and groups representing seniors and low-income Californians are also in support, such as Bridge Housing, AARP, Western Center on Law and Poverty, Non-Profit Housing Association of Northern California, and the Terner Center for Housing Innovation.