Law Review: HOAs may not prohibit granny units | SierraSun.com

Law Review: HOAs may not prohibit granny units

Jim Porter
Law Review

On Aug. 30, Governor Gavin signed AB 670 which forbids HOAs from prohibiting secondary units. This will be a dramatic change for some subdivisions.

SHORTAGE OF HOUSING

Like the rest of California and the country, Truckee suffers from a shortage of affordable housing, often called achievable (local) housing. Many of our hard-working employees cannot afford to live in Truckee and the North Shore – many commuting from Reno.

The shortage of housing and steps being taken to address the issue are well documented by the Mountain Housing Council, a remarkable collaboration of 29 regional stakeholders.

Like the rest of California and the country, Truckee suffers from a shortage of affordable housing, often called achievable (local) housing. Many of our hard-working employees cannot afford to live in Truckee and the North Shore – many commuting from Reno.

ACCESSORY DWELLING UNITS

Assembly Bill 670 is one of several recently-approved new laws addressing California’s affordable housing shortage. Housing advocates have long since seen Accessory Dwelling Units, also known as granny units, backyard cottages, casitas, mother-in-law units, secondary units, or over-garage apartments as a quicker way to add less expensive housing than building new housing.

Others see ADUs as increasing traffic and overcrowding their subdivisions (and new ADU laws as government intrusion on private property rights).

ADUs are an attached or detached residential structure which provides an independent living facility with bedroom, kitchen and bathroom (not to exceed 1,200 square feet) on the same parcel as a single-family home.

JUNIOR ACCESSORY DWELLING UNITS

Junior Accessory Dwelling Units (JADUs) are a 500 square feet or less unit, attached to a home with a door into the main residence and a separate exterior door to outside. JADUs have cooking facilities with a sink and stove but no separate bathroom.

AB 670 prevents homeowners’ associations, through their CC&Rs or otherwise, from prohibiting ADUs or JADUs. Tahoe Donner, a subdivision of 6,000 lots, almost half of Truckee’s homes and apartments, has CC&Rs that have forever prohibited ADUs and JADUs. Unless this new law is successfully challenged, that will soon change.

HOAs MAY NOT PREVENT ADUs OR JADUs

New Civil Code section 4751, the implementation of SB 670, succinctly recites that HOAs may not prohibit or unreasonably restrict the construction or use of an ADU or JADU on a single-family residential lot. “Reasonable restrictions” are allowed, restrictions that do not “unreasonably increase the cost to construct, effectively prohibit the construction of, or extinguish the ability to otherwise construct, an accessory dwelling unit or junior accessory dwelling unit …”

The new law is applied retroactively – meaning HOAs like Tahoe Donner and others, whether they rewrite their governing documents or not, must allow ADUs and JADUs after January 1, 2010. A big shift.

The new law was supported by the Town of Truckee whose ordinances authorize but regulate ADUs and JADUs (Section 18.58.230, Secondary Residential Units). Both must be permitted through the Town or Placer County as the case may be.

OTHER HOUSING BILLS

Other bills on the governor’s desk shorten the time for approval of ADUs and JADUs, prohibit impact fees for ADUs of less than 750 square feet, and prohibit municipalities from imposing burdensome parking requirements, building setbacks and lot sizes.

More to come on this hot topic.

Jim Porter is an attorney with Porter Simon licensed in California and Nevada, with offices in Truckee and Tahoe City, California, and Reno, Nevada. Jim’s practice areas include: real estate, development, construction, business, HOAs, contracts, personal injury, accidents, mediation and other transactional matters. He may be reached at porter@portersimon.com or http://www.portersimon.com.