Density is an essentialelement to solving the housing crisis plaguing California. In 2019,the state adopted several new laws to support density and make iteasier for property owners to add new units. Specifically, new lawsare facilitating the addition of accessory dwelling units or ADUs,and it could have a big impact in adding housing supply to themarket.

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"Several California laws adopted in 2019 to facilitate accessorydwelling units directly benefit property owners," MattFogt, a partner at Allen Matkins, tellsGlobeSt.com. "The primary laws of interest are Assembly Bill 68,Assembly Bill 881, and Senate Bill 13. The three bills overlapsignificantly and amend California Government Code Section 65852.2.We anticipate that many multifamily owners will be able to quicklycreate additional units within their existing multifamily projectsbased on these recent changes.

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However, it isn't only owners of single-family homes that arebenefitting. According to Fogt, the legislation could also make iteasier for multifamily owners to ad additional units. "There arethree significant impacts made by these new amendments that make iteasier for multifamily homeowners to add additional units with lesshassle: quicker approval processing, eliminated or reduced parkingrequirements, and eliminated or reduced fees," he says.

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The biggest benefit for multifamily owners is the expeditedtimeline for approval. This includes avoiding CEQA requirements andpublic hearings," says Fogt. "This is due to amendments toGovernment Code Section 65852.2(e), which provide for theministerial and administrative, meaning no CEQA or public hearing,approval of ADUs for multifamily owners in two instances. First,the conversion of unused space within existing multifamilystructures to ADUs, such as storage rooms, boiler rooms,passageways, attics, basements, or garages, for a total increase ofup to 25% of the existing multifamily dwelling units; and second,the addition of two detached ADUs on the same lot containingexisting multifamily dwellings. They are able to be up to 16 feetin height and must have at least four-foot rear and sidesetbacks."

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When an application is submitted under these terms, the localagency must respond with haste. "The local agency must act on anapplication within 60 days, reduced from 120 days, and theapplication is automatically deemed approved if not acted uponwithin such timeframe," says Fogt. "Local agencies cannot impose aminimum lot size or, until January 1, 2025, an owner-occupantrequirement."

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The new laws also remove parking requirements when the ADU islocated within one-half mile walking distance of public transit;there is a car share vehicle located within one block of the ADU;or the ADU is located within an architecturally and historicallysignificant historic district. "For units that do not meet thoseexemptions, parking requirements are capped at one space per ADU,"adds Fogt. "If a garage, carport, or covered parking structure isdemolished in conjunction with the construction of an ADU, thelocal agency may not require the replacement of such parkingspaces."

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Finally, for units under 750 square feet, the legislationprohibits collection of an impact fee. "For ADUs over 750 squarefeet, the impact fees must be proportional to the primary dwellingunit," says Fogt. "Additionally, connection fees cannot exceed thereasonable cost of providing the service."

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Kelsi Maree Borland

Kelsi Maree Borland is a freelance journalist and magazine writer based in Los Angeles, California. For more than 5 years, she has extensively reported on the commercial real estate industry, covering major deals across all commercial asset classes, investment strategy and capital markets trends, market commentary, economic trends and new technologies disrupting and revolutionizing the industry. Her work appears daily on GlobeSt.com and regularly in Real Estate Forum Magazine. As a magazine writer, she covers lifestyle and travel trends. Her work has appeared in Angeleno, Los Angeles Magazine, Travel and Leisure and more.