State's leading housing agency releases guidelines on implementing new accessory dwelling units law

Senator Wieckowski's SB 1069 goes into effect on Jan. 1 to remove obstacles on building second units

December 16, 2016

Sacramento – The California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) today released guidelines to assist cities with the implementation of new laws, including SB 1069 by Senator Bob Wieckowski (D-Fremont), that reduce barriers to building accessory dwelling units(ADUs) to increase the supply of lower-cost housing in the state.

“These guidelines will help cities implement this important new law so that we can finally eliminate the unnecessary burden on homeowners who want to construct an ADU on their property,” said Wieckowski, a member of the Senate’s Transportation and Housing Committee.  “We have a severe housing crisis and studies have shown increasing the supply of ADUs will be beneficial for students, retirees, and others looking to avoid being priced out of their communities. For too long, exorbitant fees and overly strict requirements have frustrated homeowners.  These changes should eliminate that frustration and empower people to create more affordable housing for Californians.”

The HCD memo describes ADUs as a “unique opportunity to address a variety of housing needs and provide affordable housing options for family members, students, the elderly, in-home health care providers, the disabled, and others.  Further, ADUs offer an opportunity to maximize and integrate housing choices within existing neighborhoods.”  Details can be found at: http://www.hcd.ca.gov/housing-policy-development/accessorydwellingunits.html.

“We’re thrilled that Senator Wieckowski had the foresight to author a bill that will help provide a flexible housing model that can be quickly and cost-effectively utilized by homeowners and organizations to create safe, secure, and affordable housing,” said Department of Housing and Community Development Director Ben Metcalf.  “It’s a top priority for us to support localities as they implement this new law.”

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. 

The White House’s Housing Development Toolkit referenced California’s actions to reduce barriers and called for allowing more ADUs to help meet the affordable housing challenge.

“Accessory dwelling units offer one solution to this challenge by facilitating intergenerational living arrangements and allowing more seniors to age in place, something that nearly 90 percent of older Americans desire for themselves and their families,” the report noted.

A huge coalition supported SB 1069, including the Bay Area Council, AARP, the California Housing Consortium, the California Teachers Association, SV@Home, Housing Trust Silicon Valley, Eden Housing, the Natural Resources Defense Council, and the Planning and Conservation League, among several others.

Senator Wieckowski represents the 10th District, which includes southern Alameda County and northeast Santa Clara County.