What is an Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU)?
Exactly what the name implies; these are structures built on the same lot as separate, typically larger, single-family detached dwellings (SFDs). ADUs are fully self-sufficient dwellings with the same necessities found in SFDs, Condominiums, Apartments, etc. ADUs vary in size, but with zoning laws and the realities of constructing two detached dwellings on a single lot, they rarely exceed 1,000 square feet (SF).
What is Causing the Trend Towards Constructing ADUs?
As the nation grapples with a shortage of affordable housing options, California has the dubious distinction as one of, if not the state with the least amount of available affordable housing. To mitigate this issue, the California legislature passed Senate Bill 9, which went into effect on January 1st, 2022. This legislation aims to incentivize the construction of smaller homes on smaller lots. One of the ways it achieves this incentive is by waiving the need for a discretionary review and public hearing when building two homes on a lot zoned for single-family construction.
Accessory dwelling units are not a new concept, however, with the passage of SB 9, many prospective developers are checking to see if their projects can benefit from the inclusion of ADUs.
What Does it Mean for Your Projects’ Fee Burdens?
While the state has taken steps to reduce the discretionary hurdles related to constructing/including ADUs in a given development, each pertinent jurisdictional authority will decide how and when to collect associated fees. Furthermore, California leads the nation in the average cost of “Development Impact Fees” (DIF) (transportation, storm drainage, water connection/capacity, sewer connection/capacity, public safety facilities, community facilities, public art, school developer/facility, habitat mitigation, etc.). Fortunately, many jurisdictional agencies will charge lower rates or forego charging an impact fee altogether on ADUs of a sufficiently small size – typically 750 SF or less.
Understanding which jurisdictions will charge lower impact fee rates or waive them is challenging precisely because the distinction will vary from place to place and even fee to fee. For example, many cities/counties will require lower impact fees for ADU units regarding Transportation Impact Fees while the respective school district will charge the full residential developer fee rate. Don’t burden yourself with tracking down and sifting through all the pertinent resolutions, ordinances, manuals, municipal codes and fee schedules. Instead, hire a Murow Development Consultant Fee Analysis Coordinator with the expertise, up-to-date archive, extensive jurisdictional contact base and dedication to excellence necessary to accurately analyze if ADUs may be a good option for your project.
MUROW|DC (“MDC”) is a full-service land development consulting company, specializing in fee costs as they related to land development projects such as planning, permitting, inspection, development impacts, and others, all of which play a significant role in assessing the value and cost of land. Our fee team has developed a comprehensive library and matrix of various fees and municipal codes that impact land development. We take an active approach in not only understanding the roles various fees interact with projects but also staying current with the various fees mitigated by municipalities and jurisdictions that can impact the timing and initiating of a project.
Blog Written By: Austin Hughes, Project Manager
Comments or Questions? Please feel free to contact Austin at firstname.lastname@example.org
- SB 9 (2021-2022), Chapter 162 (Cal. Stat. 2022)