Accessory Dwelling Units and Expectations

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At a recent MLS meeting at Rockwood Women’s Club there was a panel of City Employees and a Land Use Planner answering questions about Accessory Dwelling Units or affectionately known as “ADU.”

Why did this come down as a mandate from the State? Local building codes were viewed as  to restrictive to allow owners to build an additional unit on their property easily.  This caused the housing numbers the State housing requires to fall below the necessary amount for the current population.   New housing unit production have picked up recently but the new supply is still way below the demand for homes throughout the State.

How can the process of obtaining a permit be smoothed out? Most Cities suggest a pre-consult meeting with the owner, land use planner/architect to help with realistic expectations. So far the City of Santa Barbara states that they have a 20% approval for the requests they have seen.  Most of those are owner/builder projects on owner occupied single family residents that are owner occupied.

How much are the costs to get started? The favorite statement most professionals begin with is, “It depends.” Drafting plans can be anywhere from $3,500-$15,000.  City fees to begin the process $200-$600.  That does not include impact fees that can range in the neighborhood of $17,000-$21,000.  There is talk of waving these fees for ADU’s. Cities want to approve these units because it adds to the number of housing units that the State requires.

If you have an IDU what happens? If you have an illegal dwelling unit and you are reported there are punitive costs to pay.  Those can be very expensive.

ADU’s are great to have for space and increased property value. It can be an easy process when you have the right help and expectations.

Elaine Abercrombie
Broker/Owner, SBAOR Past President, GREEN, SRES

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