Governor Newsom signs Wieckowski's ADU bill to help homeowners build more units

SB 897 is the the final ADU bill from the Senator who kicked off the building boom in 2016

September 28, 2022

SACRAMENTO — Senator Bob Wieckowski’s (D-Fremont) last accessory dwelling unit (ADU) bill, SB 897, was signed into law today by Governor Gavin Newsom, giving homeowners more flexibility with height restrictions and speeding up the permitting process. ADUs have surged in popularity since Wieckowski passed his first bill in 2016 eliminating parking restrictions tied to the units.

“It is very satisfying to see so many homeowners choosing the option to construct their own units after years of being denied by unnecessary restrictions and exorbitant fees,” said Wieckowski, a member of the Senate Housing Committee. “I am grateful for Governor Newsom’s support of this bill. The Governor, and Governor Brown before him, have consistently been strong supporters for letting homeowners contribute to reducing our housing shortage. They understand that eliminating some red tape and providing more flexibility means more people will build these units. That opens up more housing opportunities. It can provide rental income, house teachers, allow a senior to age in place and offer a caregiver a place to stay.

“Working with builders, housing activists and especially strong ADU advocates like the Bay Area Council, we have made a significant impact on housing statewide,” Wieckowski said. “I hope my colleagues continue this progress in the Legislature and permanently eliminate owner occupancy requirements, which reduce options and hinder ADU financing.”

SB 897 will prohibit a local agency from denying a permit for an unpermitted ADU built before 2018 unless there is a health and safety violation. It also allows ADUs to go up to 18 feet if they are within a half mile of a major transit stop, with an added 2-foot allowance for the slope of the roof. An attached unit could be 25 feet high or lower depending on the local height limits on the primary home.

“California remains mired in a deep housing affordability crisis with the highest home prices and rents in the country,” said Matt Regan, senior vice president of public policy at the Bay Area Council, SB 897’s sponsor. “We have been chipping away at the regulatory burdens that make housing here so difficult to build but much remains to be done.  The one really bright spot has been the huge increase in the production of Accessory Dwelling Units in California.  When we first worked with Senator Wieckowski in 2016 on SB 1069 there were less than 300 ADUs permitted annually in California. This year we may top 20,000.   SB 897 removes the remaining challenges that homeowners currently face and will help continue California’s ADU revolution.  The Bay Area Council is proud to sponsor this legislation and of our long collaboration with Senator Wieckowski to solve the housing crisis.”

“Senator Wieckowski kicked-off the modern ADU revolution in 2016. SB 897 continues that good work by making important technical changes to ADU law, which will build a more inclusive, affordable and sustainable California for everyone,” said California Yimby CEO Brian Hanlon.

The bill is supported by a vast coalition of affordable housing organizations, business associations, rental housing proponents, and building and senior associations.

In addition to the Bay Area Council and California YIMBY, it is supported by AARP, SPUR, Housing Action Coalition, California Building Industry Association, California Apartment Association, Silicon Valley@Home Action Fund, Terner Center for Housing Innovation, Fremont for Everyone, CalRHA, Meta, CivicWell, the WellNest Company, South Pasadena Residents for Responsible Growth, Southern California Rental Housing Association, MidPen Housing Corporation, among many other organizations.

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