Housing reform works. Assembly Bill 68 from 2019 made it easier for people to build and rent “accessory dwelling units” — commonly called granny flats or casitas — which have their own entrance way and utilities separate from the main home. By Assemblyman Phil Ting, D-San Francisco, the bill cut red tape and required local agencies to approve or deny an ADU application within 60 days of its receipt.
The Washington Post reported May 21, “More than 23,000 ADU permits were issued in California last year, compared with fewer than 5,000 in 2017 … Los Angeles dwarfed other cities,” issuing 7,160 permits in 2022. That contrasted with only 1,387 L.A. permits for single-family homes, something that obviously remains a problem. Although 13,400 permits were issued for multi-unit complexes.
The reason they’re called granny flats is because sometimes a family will build one for a grandma or other family member.
But the utility of building them for leasing to non-family members has become critical with the housing crunch of recent years. According to Zillow.com, the average price of an L.A. home remains at $909,961, despite a 4.2% decline the past year. That’s nearly double the $500,000 price as recently as 2015.
Former state Sen. John Moorlach, D-Costa Mesa, at the time first opposed the bill. But after long discussions with proponents, he abstained on the Senate floor. He told us he liked the property-rights aspect, “where it’s your property and you can do what you want with it,” but still wasn’t convinced due to concerns including parking problems and increased traffic.
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Fortunately, AB 68 passed.
The biggest fears about ADUs have yet to materialize.
Although the current success of granny flats is welcome, more needs to be done.
Ting is advancing a new bill, Assembly Bill 1033. It would allow the sale of ADUs separate from the main property.
It already has passed three Assembly committees, including Appropriations on May 17.
We urge its passage in the full Assembly and the Senate. Let’s keep the housing progress going. California needs the housing and property owners should have more flexibility. It’s a win-win.