a wooden jenga like house structure on green grass

Ancillary Housing Units (Accessory Dwelling Units)

Are you hosting family this holiday season- putting parents or grandparents up in the spare bedroom or taking over your children’s bedroom? Did you have a moment where you thought- I need more space!? Maybe you sought to build a small dwelling unit in your back yard to house a relative or to earn rental income, only to be stymied by a local zoning ordinance prohibiting you from using your property for this purpose, or with an approval process so onerous that you gave up. Read on to learn more about changes to the law regarding accessory dwelling units (ADUs).  

In 2019, in response a state-wide shortage of affordable housing, California enacted legislation restricting the ability of municipalities to prohibit ADUs and required the streamlining of municipal approval processes. You may now find it both possible and easier to construct an ADU on your property. To read code, you can follow this link to the California Health and Safety Code (HSC), Section 65583(c)(7)

The new law does not require municipalities to provide for ADUs in their zoning ordinances.  However, if you live in a county, city, or town that does not address ADUs in its zoning ordinance, you may construct an ADU according to rules set out in the state law.  California has even created an ADU Grant Program to help you pay for the construction of your ADU.

Below is a list of helpful web resources regarding ADUs. You can also sign up for remote access to the Westlaw database through our website. Westlaw has access to secondary sources like Miller & Star, or California Jurisprudence, that has a section on zoning and other land controls. Our Lexis Digital Library has titles like California Environmental Law & Land Use Practice or California Legal Forms Transaction Guide. You can request access to our digital library and begin checking up to 5 titles at a time!

For additional information visit these websites:

California Department of Housing and Community Development

CDHCD ADU Handbook

California ADU Grant Program

Riverside County Planning Department

Riverside ADU Frequently Asked Questions

City of Riverside ADU Zoning Guide

Temecula City ADUs

City of Palm Springs ADU Zoning Guide


By rcll

December 17, 2021

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