Senate Housing Committee approves new Wieckowski accessory dwelling unit bill

April 2, 2019

SACRAMENTO – Recognizing that accessory dwelling units (ADUs), also known as granny flats, are an increasingly popular way to provide more affordable housing in California, the state Senate’s Housing Committee approved SB 13 today, the latest legislation authored by Senator Bob Wieckowski (D-Fremont), one of the Legislature’s strongest advocates for the smaller homes.

This year has seen an increase in the number of bills dealing with accessory units.  But SB 13 is the only legislation that would reduce impact fees charged by local jurisdictions and eliminate owner-occupancy requirements, two factors that the Department of Housing and Community Development cite as leading barriers to construction of the units.

“SB 13 addresses the leading obstacles cited by HCD in its recent testimony before the Legislature,” said Wieckowski, a member of the Senate Housing Committee, who previously authored SB 1069 and AB 229, two bills that helped streamline ADU development in California. “The increases in applications and permits for accessory units across the state show many homeowners are eager to build these units and several cities have altered their ordinances to help them. But as we heard from HCD, other local jurisdictions are still charging outrageous impact fees, enacting restrictive measures and impeding growth.  That hurts workers, teachers, seniors and graduates struggling to stay in the communities they call home.”

Supporters of SB 13 include the California Chamber of Commerce, Eden Housing, PrefabADU, SV@Home and the Bay Area Council.

“SB 13 strikes a fair balance for homeowners and local agencies,” said Xiomara Cisneros, policy director of the Bay Area Council.  “It eliminates barriers, such as owner occupancy requirements, which reduce options for both buyers and renters. This bill builds on the success of Sen. Wieckowski’s previous ADU bill, SB 1069, which we were proud to sponsor.  More accessory dwelling units will help us address our chronic housing shortage and help Bay Area workers searching for a home.”

Cities that are streamlining their ADU permit procedures, such as San Jose, San Diego and Los Angeles have seen notable increases in applications.  Los Angeles, which is creating its own ordinance, but is currently working under the state statutes, permitted 9,247 units in 2017 and 2018. That is 17 times more than in 2015 and 2016. Now, it is receiving 400 applications a month and the units are dispersed throughout the city.

ADUs are inherently more affordable than conventional infill development. They cost less to build and require no public subsidy.

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