Several bills sitting on Governor Gavin Newsom’s desk would cut red tape and bring more in-law flats to backyards and garages across the state. The Legislature has sent the governor measures with major changes to state laws governing granny flats, cutting permit fees, allowing more units on large properties and granting limited amnesty to existing units.
The measures would also grant enforcement power to the Department of Housing and Community Development, or HCD, to flag city codes hindering the construction of auxiliary dwelling units, known as ADUs. The governor has until Oct. 13 to act on the bills. Lawmakers are optimistic the measures will be signed.
The measures come as the state grapples with a persistent housing shortage, estimated to be up to 3.5 million homes, condos and apartments. Dramatic proposals— including more permissive zoning, higher density allowances and streamlined local approval — fell short in this year’s legislative session.
Bay Area home prices remain among the highest in the nation, as the red-hot regional economy adds jobs and population. The median price for an existing home in the 9-county region was $843,000 in August. In SoCal, the median price for an existing home was $775,000 in August in Orange County, the highest in the region.
While demand remains strong, adding homes and apartments has been a challenge. New building permits slumped in the past 12 months. Lawmakers and housing advocates say ADUs can offer a quick, relatively low-cost way to add apartments to a region pinched for affordable housing. Lawmakers from the Bay Area and Los Angeles have taken the lead in easing granny flat restrictions. State Senator Bob Wieckowski, D-Fremont, author of one of the reform bills, said the measures gives cities more incentive to approve the auxiliary units.