With the new slew of new legislation passed in 2019 and going into effect in 2020, we’ve seen a huge improvement for homeowners and the opportunity to build an ADU explode. Previously, it had been heartbreaking telling homeowners wanting an ADU that they couldn’t because of:

-Ridiculously large setback requirements

-Massive development and impact fees

-Extremely restrictive parking requirements

the list goes on….

By and large we’ve seen cities act proactively and encourage the adoption of ADU policy that complies with the new state laws. But this article isn’t about congratulating the vast majority of California cities, it’s about highlighting some of the problem cities.

If your city makes the list contact your city council and let them know ADUs are important to you. I can’t stress enough how impactful this grassroots approach is for passing effective ADU policy. The cities in the list below have all had formal comment letters sent to them outlining why some portion of their ADU ordinance is in violation of state law.

Our Current ADU City Hit List

  • Buena Park
  • Burbank – Has banned ADUs in horse keeping areas.
  • Clairemont
  • Escondido – Has banned ADUs over 850 square feet by only allowing homeowners to build one bedroom. They are also allowing ADUs to referred to a planning commission, which is a big no-no.
  • Irvine – Irvine considers themselves exempt from state law because they’re a charter city.
  • Los Altos – Is still requiring a 20ft side and rear setback despite the state law mandating it can’t be more than 4 ft.
  • Menlo Park
  • Pacific Grove
  • Santa Cruz – Their ordinance needs a lot of work.
  • San Luis Obispo – Is treating townhomes like multi-family dwellings. So if 4 are attached together they’re only allowing the minimum for one MF unit.

There are a number of groups promoting healthy ADU policy and advocating for homeowners (Maxable being one of them!), but we also want to shout out to Californian’s for Homeownership, who has reviewed more than 200 city ordinances, sent formal comment letters to 130 cities and will sue cities not in compliance with ADU regulations. Their tireless work is helping move the needle in a big way! You can visit their website here: https://www.caforhomes.org/