Senate approves Wieckowski bill removing barriers to granny flats

SB 1069 heads to Governor Brown; It would increase the supply of affordable rental housing throughout California

August 30, 2016

Sacramento – California homeowners seeking to build an accessory dwelling unit (granny flat) on their property are one step closer to facing fewer barriers and lower fees after the California State Senate approved a bill by Senator Bob Wieckowski (D-Fremont) today.  Senate Bill 1069, the most extensive bill on second units to be passed by the Legislature in decades, now goes to Governor Brown for his consideration.  The Governor signaled his support for the bill in principle during his revise of the state budget in May.

“California is in a housing crisis and accessory dwelling units can be part of the solution because they provide opportunities for people of all ages to stay in their communities,” said Wieckowski, a member of the Senate’s Transportation and Housing Committee.  “People are shocked and frustrated when they see the enormous fees and requirements that are preventing them from adding a small unit or converting a room in their house. SB 1069 will eliminate unnecessary fees and reduce requirements to give homeowners more control over their home.”

SB 1069 eases regulatory burdens by eliminating excessive sprinkler requirements, providing exceptions to parking restrictions if the home is located within a half mile from public transit, requiring ministerial approval for the remodeling of existing homes when they are compliant with building and safety codes, and making utility connection fees for brand new construction proportionate to the burden the accessory dwelling will place on the water or sewer systems.

“While the supply of housing remains relatively stagnant, the cost of rent in many areas is simply beyond the financial capacity of many families,” said Patrick Sabelhaus, executive director of the California Council for Affordable Housing.  “We applaud Senator Wieckowski for his leadership in the affordable housing arena.  SB 1069 presents a balanced approach to increasing housing in a way that is respectful of local zoning.”

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.  Attesting to the economic benefits the bill will provide, the California Chamber of Commerce placed SB 1069 on its “job creator” list of state legislation. 

SB 1069 is supported by a huge coalition, including the Bay Area Council, AARP, the California Housing Consortium, the California Teachers Association, the East Bay Leadership Council, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and a number of environmental and affordable housing organizations.

“We thank Senator Wieckowski for his leadership on this important bill to make it easier and more affordable to build second units by easing requirements for off-street parking and costly additional utility connections,” said Kevin Zwick, chief executive officer of Housing Trust Silicon Valley.  “State and local laws should enable residents to quickly and easily provide a home to someone in their community rather than set up barriers that make this impossible.”

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