On September 27, 2016, California Governor Jerry Brown signed Senate Bill No. 1069 into law, which will help to reduce regulatory barriers facing homeowners when seeking to build a granny flat (referred to as an “accessory dwelling unit”) on their real estate. According to State Senator Bob Wieckowski (D – Fremont), the author of SB 1069, “[r]emoving the most egregious obstacles to building these units will help to increase the supply of affordable housing in California and allow more people to remain in the communities they call home…. SB 1069 returns more power to homeowners and reins in some of the enormous fees and requirements levied by local agencies.”
According to a recent UC Berkeley study, these accessory dwelling units “are a means to accommodate future growth and encourage infill development in developed neighborhoods.” However, the study determined that local government regulation often impedes development of these units. The same study, which assessed five cities in the Bay Area, found that there is a substantial market of homeowners interested in building a granny flat. In fact, the report said that nearly 90% of older Americans desire intergeneration living arrangements (thus allowing seniors to age in place) and found that “[a]ccessory dwelling units offer one solution to this challenge….”
SB 1069 was opposed by the League of California Cities, as well as at least eleven other local governmental agencies. On the other hand, the legislation received widespread support from organizations such as the Bay Area Council, the California Building Industry Association, the California Chamber of Commerce, Colliers International, Cushman & Wakefield, and the UC Berkeley Terner Center for Housing Innovation. The changes in the regulatory landscape as a result of SB 1069 will go into effect January 1, 2017.