Governor Newsom signs Wieckowski bill to jump start construction of accessory dwelling units

SB 13 eliminates and reduces fees depending on the size of the new homes

October 9, 2019

SACRAMENTO ­– Moving to give a boost to the construction of accessory dwelling units (ADUs), also known as granny flats, Governor Gavin Newsom today signed a bill by Sen. Bob Wieckowski (D-Fremont) to reduce, and in some cases, eliminate excessive developer impact fees, often cited by ADU supporters as the biggest barrier blocking their development.   

“I congratulate the Governor for giving relief to homeowners all across the state who want to be part of the solution to our affordable housing challenges by building an ADU on their property,” said Wieckowski, whose 2016 ADU bill sparked the movement toward eliminating obstacles imposed by local jurisdictions. “Today’s action will build on the momentum we have seen in the past few years and make these accessory units much more affordable to build.  ADUs by themselves will not solve our housing crisis, but they are a key part and make a lot of sense for students returning home, seniors who want to age in place and homeowners looking for another source of income.  The Governor saw through the local control arguments and kept his eyes on the greater need to supply more affordable housing.”

ADUs offer a variety of benefits. They can be built without public subsidies, are more affordable by design and increase density within the existing footprint of a house or backyard.  They also allow our growing senior population to age in place and provide added income for homeowners.

Some jurisdictions across the state are still charging exorbitant developer impact fees, some as high as $50,000, on homeowners who want to build an ADU.  The state Housing and Community Development Department (HCD) cites the high fees as a barrier to construction.  SB 13 eliminates the fees on ADUs under 750 square feet and any larger ADU would be charged in proportion to the primary home on the lot.

The bill also prohibits owner occupancy requirements on ADUs for five years.  It creates an amnesty program that would ease the process of permitting pre-existing unpermitted units.  SB 13 also enhances an enforcement mechanism that would allow HCD to ensure local agencies are following the law on ADUs.

“We are ecstatic that SB 13 is now state law,” said Xiomara Cisneros, policy director at the Bay Area Council.  “The Governor called for bold solutions to address California’s housing shortage.  While we need the big picture ideas as well, these small home options will prove to be a major housing solution for its immediate effectiveness and relative affordability.  We applaud Sen. Wieckowski’s leadership for championing ADUs and Governor Newsom for signing the bill to address one of California’s most serious and urgent problems.  We’ll soon see the true potential of ADUs with the implementation of SB 13 as it removes unnecessary barriers, increasing the supply of housing across California.”

SB 13 is also supported by California Yimby, the California Chamber of Commerce, California Association of Realtors, California State Retirees, California Democratic Party, Eden Housing, League of Women Voters, Silicon Valley @Home, PrefabADU, Greenbelt Alliance, Natural Resource Defense Council and many others.

The bill had bipartisan support in the state Legislature.

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