Senate Committee passes Wieckowski bill to help homeowners build accessory units

April 17, 2018

SACRAMENTO – Senator Bob Wieckowski’s (D-Fremont) new bill to make it easier and less costly for homeowners to construct accessory dwelling units (ADUs) on their property, passed the Senate Transportation and Housing Committee today.  Senate Bill 831 will now go before the Senate Governance and Finance Committee.

“We are making important progress eliminating cumbersome regulations and costly fees that are a real burden on homeowners who want to build an accessory unit on their property,” said Wieckowski, the author of two previous ADU bills signed by Governor Brown – SB 1069 and SB 229. “The results are clear – applications are way up across the state and that shows homeowners see ADUs as a form of housing they are willing to invest in if we make the process more friendly and financially feasible. However, there are still local jurisdictions that insist on impeding this progress with unreasonable requirements that prevent construction.”

California leads the nation in accessory dwelling units and saw a 63 percent increase in ADU permits from 2016 to 2017.  Los Angeles had 80 ADU permits in 2016, and saw a huge jump to 1,980 applications in 2017, according to the University of California’s Terner Center for Housing Innovation December report.

“This means more Californians will have the opportunity to remain in their community rather than move away from their family, friends, work or school,” Wieckowski said.

SB 831 eliminates all local agency, school district and special district fees on ADUs. It also establishes an amnesty process for the thousands of existing unpermitted ADUs to be brought up to code.  SB 831 will hold local agencies accountable by granting the Department of Housing and Community Development the authority to notify local agencies if their local ADU ordinance is not in compliance with state law and to inform the Attorney General if a jurisdiction’s ordinance is not compliant.

“SB 831 provides a clear pathway for permitting accessory dwelling units that will make it much easier and less costly for homeowners around the state,” said Helen Leung, co-executive director of LA-Mas, a non-profit urban design organization. “By approving this bill, we can make more efficient use of our available land and help homeowners bring unpermitted units up to code.”

SB 831 is supported by a broad coalition that includes the Bay Area Council, California Association of Realtors, Non-profit Housing Association of Northern California and several other organizations from throughout the state.

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