WHAT IS AN ACCESSORY DWELLING UNIT (ADU) AND HOW CAN YOU BENEFIT BY THIS NEW LAW?
An Accessory Dwelling Unit or ADU is what many call a Granny Unit, a separate residence on a lot that has a single family home and another separate unit that provides the living amenities of a kitchen and a bathroom that can have a legal shower. For years many property owners in Los Angeles and elsewhere have converted their garages into ADU’s and in many cases had done so illegally, either without permit or by sneaking in a shower when it wasn’t allowed by LA City’s zoning ordinances. In some cases neighbors reported these transgressions and the City required that the shower be removed. What seemed sensible and practical to the homeowner ran afoul of the law.
Well, now that has changed. In September 2016 the State of California amended sections of State law that require local jurisdictions to allow ADU’s. The City of Los Angeles had passed several ADU ordinances, the latest being in November 2016. However, the City’s law did not comply with the State law and as a result the City law has become null and void. What that means is the State law has taken effect in Los Angeles until such time as the City passes a new ordinance, one that is compatible with the State law.
So, what’s allowed? Quite a bit, actually. Here are some of the essentials. If a lot is zoned for a single family or multi-family residence and the lot contains a single family dwelling, you may be eligible to have an ADU on your property. There are guidelines that govern what is and is not allowed and a permit for the dwelling must be obtained through the Department of Building and Safety. What you likely will have to include would be a small kitchen and a bathroom with a shower. There are parking issues, setback requirements, and size restrictions, all of which you may easily be in compliance with. The ADU can be adjoining the single family or separate from it, like a garage conversion. Once the approval process is completed, the dwelling will receive a separate address.
If you would like me to mail or email a copy of the guidelines please let me know. I am presently in the process of applying for an ADU permit through LADBS and would be happy to share my experience and any helpful guidance with you.