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Late in 2019, the State legislature enacted a handful of new laws, with the goal of creating housing. Specifically, these changes to the State Accessory Dwelling Unit (“ADU”) and Junior Accessory Dwelling Unit (“JADU”, typically defined as 500 square feet or smaller) laws were effective January 1, 2020 – Senate Bill 13 and Assembly Bills 68, 587, 671 and 881.

To briefly summarize these new rules, the bills:

  1. Require over-the-counter approval of ADUs on multi-family parcels,
  2. Invalidate local owner-occupancy requirements for ADUs,
  3. Require over-the-counter approval of JADUs,
  4. Prohibit local requirements for replacement of off-street parking for garage conversions, and
  5. Limit height and setback requirements for ADUs. There can be some discretion to regulate ADUs and JADUs to protect community character and to promote zoning code compliance.

With regard to Development Impact Fees, SB 13 exempts DIFs for smaller ADUs and requires a specific method of fee determination for larger ADUs. That is, DIFs and Quimby in-lieu fees may not be imposed on the construction of ADUs less than 750 square feet. ADUs of 750 square feet or more must be charged proportionately in relation to the square footage of the existing primary dwelling unit on the parcel.

Water/sewer connection fees and capacity charges are generally exempt from these restrictions. Note that existing law requires that an ADU within the existing space of a single-family residence or accessory structure (with some small allowances) cannot be required to install a new or separate utility connection and may not be considered a new residential use in the determination of water/sewer connection fees and capacity charges. However, an ADU that is not within an existing structure may require a new or separate utility connection, and the connection may be subject to a connection fee and/or capacity charge.

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