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Accessory Dwelling Units (ADU's)~What's the Deal?

An Accessory Dwelling Units (ADU’s) is a secondary dwelling unit, also known as a granny flat. For a unit to be considered an ADU, it must have a kitchen, bathroom, and separate entrance. ADU’s are allowed on lots with preexisting single-family homes, or in multi-family residential zones, and must be transferred with the primary residence—never separately. If attached to a primary residence, an ADU may not exceed 50 percent of the existing living area. Whether attached or detached, ADU’s may not exceed 1200 square feet total. However, there is no minimum lot size, and parking requirements are often reduced depending on circumstances. No separate utilities are required if an ADU is part of an existing home or is an accessory structure in a single-family zone.

Many jurisdictions have seen increased ADU presence as counter to their discretionary land use authority, which has caused some strife. Local authorities do, however, still have some jurisdiction regarding parking, height of structure, setback from street, lot coverage, landscaping, etc. They can also review adequacy of water, sewer services, and the impact on traffic flow and public safety. Owners and builders must also conform to local building code requirements, if applicable, as well as local health inspectors in the case of private sewer systems. In Santa Barbara county, all existing ordinances are void to the extent that they conflict with new California State ADU laws, but the process of coming to sensible compromises is still underway. The City of Santa Barbara is still in the process of adjusting local ordinance, and the timing of any concrete decisions are unknown. Goleta, the County of Santa Barbara, and Carpinteria are undergoing similar processes as well. Regardless, ADU’s are a great opportunity for increased living space or consistent rental income, and represent a great step towards dealing with Santa Barbara’s housing shortage, especially in lower income brackets.

Contact Spann & Associates for more information and contacts regarding ADU’s!

*Thank you to Buynak, Fauver, Archibald and Spray Attorneys for information regarding ADU’s*

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