The State has identified the housing shortage as an issue of statewide significance. As California’s housing crisis deepens, development of Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) and Junior Accessory Dwelling Units (JADUs) has been identified by the State as an approach to increasing housing supply. The California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) describes ADUs as “an affordable type of home to construct in California because they do not require paying for land or major new infrastructure” and “give homeowners the flexibility to share independent living areas with family members and others, allowing seniors to age in place as they require more care, and help extended families to be near one another while maintaining privacy.” ADUs have been known by many names (granny flats, mother-in-law units, second dwelling units, etc.) and have historically been commonplace in single-family zones. However, in most communities there are some who believe ADUs should not be allowed in single-family zones. The State intervened when an increasing number of municipalities adopted Ordinances to deter the development of ADUs rather than encourage them.
In 2016, then Governor Brown signed multiple bills (Senate Bill (SB) 1069, Assembly Bill (AB) 2299, and AB 2406) into effect, which made significant changes to Government Code Section 62852.2 to reduce barriers that may be imposed on the development of ADUs. Proponents of the legislation argued that the land use bills would encourage construction of ADUs by removing the regulatory barriers that deter ADU development. Opponents of the legislation argued that the bills were an example of State overreaching by limiting the ability of municipalities to impose reasonable requirements on ADU construction in an effort to protect the character of single-family neighborhoods. In 2018, in response to these changes, the City Council adopted Ordinance No. 1203 to bring applicable provisions of the Brea City Code (BCC) into compliance with State law (Attachment B).
In 2019, Governor Newsom signed three new bills (SB 13, AB 68, and AB 881) that amended State law again to further reduce barriers that may be imposed on the development of ADUs. These bills became effective on January 1, 2020. Since the City’s current Ordinance does not comply with the newly adopted State law, the City’s Ordinance was rendered null and void and the City’s review of ADUs currently defaults to State requirements. Planning Division staff believe it is critical to bring forward a tailored Ordinance that both complies with State law and preserves as much regulatory control as possible.
Proposed ADU Regulations and Process
The City’s regulations for the development of ADUs are located in BCC Chapter 20.208 “R-1 Single Family Residential Zone”. In order to comply with the new State law, the proposed Zoning Text Amendment (ZTA) would delete the provisions pertaining to ADUs in Chapter 20.208 and replace it with the new regulations. Other chapters of the BCC refer to Chapter 20.208 for ADU regulations in their respective zone. Therefore, for consistency, the proposed Ordinance would amend and replace the following BCC sections:
ADU and JADU Definitions: The BCC defines an ADU as “an attached or a detached residential dwelling unit that provides complete independent living facilities for one or more persons and is located on a lot with a proposed or existing primary residence. It shall include permanent provisions for living, sleeping, eating, cooking, and sanitation on the same parcel as the single-family or multifamily dwelling is or will be situated."
- 20.00 (General Provisions)
- 20.200 (Single Family Residential – Hillside Zone)
- 20.206 (HR Hillside Residential Zone)
- 20.208 (R1 Single Family Residential Zone)
- 20.212 (R1 5,000 Single Family Residential Zone)
- 20.216 (R2 Multiple Family Residential Zone)
- 20.220 (R3 Multiple Family Residential Zone)
- 20.258 (Mixed-Use Zoning Districts)
The BCC currently does not define a JADU. The proposed Ordinance includes HCD’s definition of a JADU, which is “a unit that is no more than 500 square feet in size and contained entirely within a single-family residence. A junior accessory dwelling unit may include separate sanitation facilities, or may share sanitation facilities with the existing structure.”
A JADU may be created through the conversion or repurposing of existing area within the primary residence and does not require any off-street parking. With the addition of JADU requirements, lots developed with a single-family dwelling unit are eligible to propose one ADU and one JADU, which will result in a total of three units on one lot (including the primary residence). Staff has incorporated this definition into the proposed Ordinance (Section 2).
ADUs and JADUs in Multi-Family Zones: State law now requires municipalities to allow ADUs on multi-family residential lots up to 25 percent of the existing multi-family unit count (or one ADU, whichever is greater) within the existing structure to provide an ADU. This can be accomplished through the conversion of non-habitable spaces such as storage rooms, basements, recreational rooms, laundry rooms, and garages. Additionally, an existing multi-family property is allowed to have up to two detached ADUs. Staff has incorporated this requirement into the proposed Ordinance (Section 11).
In summary, Table A shows the different scenarios to which an ADU and/or JADU may be allowed based on zoning and the existing structures on-site:
|Table A: ADU and JADU Building Scenarios
||Existing Structures On-Site
||# of ADUs Allowed
||# of JADUs Allowed
||Two detached ADUs and up to 25 percent of the existing multi-family units or one unit, whichever is greater
||Two detached ADUs and up to 25 percent of the existing multi-family units or one unit, whichever is greater
Size, Setbacks, and other Development Standards: State law modified existing regulations to limit a municipality’s ability to regulate unit size, setbacks, and other development standards for ADUs and JADUs. Municipalities may no longer impose a minimum lot size requirement for ADUs on single-family residential lots. In addition, no setbacks are required for any conversion or reconstruction of a structure into an ADU that is located or rebuilt in the same location.
State law now requires municipalities to allow an 800 square foot ADU, with a minimum of 16 feet in height, and a 4-foot side and rear yard setback through a building permit. Staff has incorporated this requirement into the proposed Ordinance (Section 6 and 7).
Parking: In 2016, State law amended the parking requirement for ADUs. An ADU is required to provide one additional off-street parking space in addition to the required parking for the primary residence. The additional parking space may be covered or uncovered and subject to all parking space location, dimension and surface requirements.
Municipalities are prohibited from requiring parking for ADUs in any of the following circumstances:
In 2019, State law further amended the parking requirements for ADUs. State law states that if a garage, carport, or covered parking structure is demolished or converted in conjunction with the construction of an ADU or converted to an ADU, municipalities cannot require that those off-street parking spaces be replaced. State law also prohibits municipalities from requiring parking for JADUs. Staff has incorporated this requirement into the proposed Ordinance (Section 9).
- The ADU is located within one-half mile of public transit, including, but not limited to, train stations and bus stations. The one-half mile distance shall be measured on actual walking routes between the ADU and the public transit, rather than a straight line between points.
- The ADU is located within an architecturally and historically significant district.
- The ADU is part of a proposed or existing primary residence or an existing accessory structure.
- When on-street parking permits are required but not offered to the occupant of the ADU.
- When there is a car share vehicle located within one block of the ADU.
Aesthetics: Currently, the existing ADU Ordinance requires the ADU to be architecturally compatible with the existing dwelling unit. The proposed Ordinance further defines architectural compatibility and requires an ADU to be designed to match the existing primary residence in color, style and materials. Staff has incorporated this requirement in the proposed Ordinance (Section 10).
ADU and JADU Covenant Requirement: Municipalities may no longer require owner-occupancy for ADUs. For JADUs, municipalities may impose an owner occupancy requirement. In accordance with State law, staff has incorporated a requirement for the recordation of a covenant for both ADUs and JADUs. The covenant will require owner-occupancy requirement for lots containing a JADUs and prohibit an ADU or JADU to operate as a short-term rental. Table B summarizes the proposed covenant requirements:
|Table B: Covenant Requirements
|Unit may not be sold, transferred, or assigned separately from the primary residence
|Unit may not be rented for a period of less than 30 consecutive days (no short-term rentals)
|Owner occupancy required on-site
Staff has incorporated this requirement in the proposed Ordinance (Section 11).
Impact Fees: Under current State law, municipalities cannot impose impact fees for any ADUs is less than 750 square feet. For ADUs greater than 750 square feet, municipalities may impose impact fees which are charged proportional to the square footage of the primary residence.
ADU Review Process: Staff is proposing a tiered review process for ADUs based on the size and number of bedrooms. The proposed tiered review process is a result of new State law that prohibits municipalities from:
The first-tier review process permits an ADU through a building permit that is consistent with the size limits required by State law. A second-tier review process incorporates a Certificate of Compatibility, subject to Planning Commission approval, for proposals that exceed size limits as described under current State law. The proposed tiered review process is described in Table C. Staff has incorporated this requirement in the proposed Ordinance (Section 11).
- Establishing a percentage allowed for an ADU based on the size of the primary residence; and
- Creating a maximum allowable square footage for an ADU that is less than 850 square feet for a studio/one-bedroom or 1,000 square feet for a two-bedroom.
|Table C: City of Brea Proposed ADU Tiered Review Process
||Certificate of Compatibility
|Studio / 1-bedroom
||Up to 850 square feet1
||> 851 square feet2
|2-bedroom & more
||Up to 1,000 square feet1
||> 1,001 square feet2
|1 ADUs up to 800 SF are subject to a 16-foot height limitation with a 4-foot side- and rear-yard setback requirement if the applicable zoning development standards would prohibit the construction of an ADU greater than 800 square feet. Otherwise, ADUs are subject to applicable development standards of the underlying zone.
2.Subject to Planning Commission approval of a Certificate of Compatibility per BCC Section 20.408.050.
Staff has prepared a Summary of Development Standards (Attachment C) that demonstrates the applicable requirements based on the type of accessory unit.