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Image by Sharon Willen from Pixabay 

SB 13 targets obstacles cited by HCD as barriers to creating more of the affordable units

September 16, 2019 - SACRAMENTO ­– With bipartisan support, the state Assembly last week approved an accessory dwelling units, often referred to as granny flats, bill that targets some of the biggest remaining barriers blocking their construction in California.  SB 13, authored by Senator Bob Wieckowski (D-Fremont) is strongly supported by ADU advocates across the state.  

“Today’s approval of SB 13 moves us closer to eliminating excessive developer impact fees that state officials, academics and workers in the field have cited as one of the biggest obstacles to constructing ADUs in California,” said Senator Wieckowski, a member of the Senate Housing Committee.  “The higher the impact fees, the greater the likelihood that homeowners will resort to building unpermitted units that are less safe and pose a greater threat to public health.  Cutting fees and providing a pathway to bring unpermitted units up to code will provide more affordable housing opportunities for Californians.  SB 13 will enhance the progress we are making today.”

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.

Yet, many 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 were proud to sponsor Senator Wieckowski’s landmark bill on ADUs back in 2016.  But we knew we had to tackle the remaining barriers,” said Policy Director Xiomara Cisneros of the Bay Area Council.  “That’s why the passage of SB 13 is a huge win for housing.  The bill is the vehicle to overcome various restrictions, including eliminating or removing fees in a fair manner.  ADUs are a great example of how good things come in small packages.  With over 60 percent of California zoned for single family homes, we’ll be able to empower homeowners to be a part of the solution.  No other housing solution out there has anywhere near this level of scalability, and we need to scale to solve this crisis.”

“SB 13 will make it easier to build “granny flats” or accessory dwelling units, across California,” said California YIMBY President and CEO Brian Hanlon.  “ADUs are good for homeowners and renters alike: They help generate income for homeowners while providing affordable housing for someone who needs a place to live.  California YIMBY deeply appreciates Senator Wieckowski’s leadership in helping us solve the housing crisis with more ADUs in our backyards.” 

SB 13 is also supported by 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 heads back to the Senate today for a concurrence vote.


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