New California Law Gives Homeowners the Option to Sell Accessory Dwelling Units Separately, Sparking Debate on Affordable Housing

San Diego, California – As 2022 begins, several new laws are taking effect that directly impact accessory dwelling units (ADUs), also known as granny flats or backyard homes. One notable law, AB 1033, grants cities the option to allow homeowners to sell their ADUs separately from the main house. The reception to this law is mixed, with some championing the opportunity it provides for affordable housing, while others express concerns.

Raphael Perez, Chair of the Casita Coalition, an organization advocating for the construction of more smaller, affordable housing, supports the idea of selling ADUs separately. He believes that ADUs could be more affordable than full houses, giving more people the chance to become homeowners. Perez highlights the benefits of having independent living spaces, including potential yards and parking spots. He points out that selling an ADU can also provide additional income for seniors who need to supplement their finances to remain in their homes.

Geoff Hueter, Chair of Neighbors for a Better San Diego, acknowledges the potential benefits of AB 1033 but raises concerns about the city’s current practice of allowing multiple ADUs on a single property. He urges a reassessment of the program’s goals to ensure alignment with state laws. Hueter worries that the law may entice outside developers to convert single-family homes into multiple ADUs, leading to congested neighborhoods dominated by studios, rather than addressing the need for family homes.

Although several cities have yet to approve the sale of ADUs, San Diego appears to be considering the possibility. City officials state that they are evaluating the law for potential implementation. Meanwhile, other cities, like Oceanside, have declared no intention to alter their local laws in response to AB 1033.

In addition to AB 1033, two other laws related to ADUs are coming into effect. AB 976 allows homeowners to rent out their ADUs, extending a previous law that was set to expire. AB 434 mandates that cities which have been slow to adopt ADUs must have plans in place by the following year to accept them.

Despite the divided opinions on ADUs, there is a general consensus that these housing units alone will not resolve the overarching housing crisis. Rafael Perez emphasizes the need for a comprehensive approach, stating that all types of housing in various neighborhoods must be available to accommodate diverse demographics. ADUs may offer some relief to the ongoing issue, but further measures are required to address the complexity of the housing shortage.

In conclusion, the implementation of AB 1033 grants cities the option to allow homeowners to sell their ADUs as separate entities from their primary residences. This new law has sparked both support and concern among residents. Advocates argue that it is an excellent opportunity to increase homeownership and provide affordable housing options, while others worry about the potential impact on neighborhood congestion and the lack of focus on family housing. As cities evaluate whether to adopt this law, the broader consensus is that ADUs alone cannot fully resolve the housing crisis. The need for a comprehensive approach is evident, with diverse housing options required to meet the demand across various neighborhoods and demographics.