Companion Unit Regulations Update

What is a Companion Unit?

A companion unit is a second living unit located on the same lot as a single-family home in the R1 (Single-Family) Zoning district. They are also referred to as "granny units" or "in-law units." Companion units typically contain a bathroom, one or two bedrooms, a kitchen and, sometimes, a garage or carport. Companion units provide housing opportunities within single-family neighborhoods and are either attached to or separated from the main home. 

New Companion Unit Regulations

In September 2016, Governor Brown signed Senate Bill (SB) 1069 and Assembly Bill (AB) 2299, amending Section 65852.2 of the Government Code. Effective January 1, 2017, this amendment reduces barriers and streamlines approval of companion units. Some of the changes include:

  • exceptions to the amount of required parking;
  • allowance for conversion of existing garages into companion units;
  • reduced building setbacks; and
  • limitations on fire sprinkler and water meter requirements.

See the Senate Bill and California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) Memo summarizing the law for more information.

To ensure consistency, the City will be amending its Companion Unit regulations to comply with recent changes in State law.

Public Hearings

A public hearing to review Zoning Ordinance text amendments are tentatively scheduled for:

  • An Environmental Planning Commission Public Hearing on March 1, 2017 at 7 p.m. in the Council Chambers on the Second Floor of City Hall. Meeting agenda and staff report will be posted online when available.
  • A City Council Public Hearing on March 28, 2016 at 6:30 p.m. in the Council Chambers on the Second Floor of City Hall. Meeting agenda and staff report will be posted online when available.

Previous City Action

On June 7, 2016, the City Council approved amendments to the Companion Unit regulations in the City's Municipal Code. The amendments are intended to encourage more companion units within the City. Materials from the City Council meeting are available online - Item 6.2. The new regulations became effective on July 14, 2016. 

Summary of new Companion Unit Regulations

Adopted Ordinances (full text):

1. Chapter 36 (Zoning Ordinance) and

2. Chapter 41 (Park Land Dedication In-Lieu Fee)

 

Please contact Diana Pancholi, Associate Planner, by phone at (650) 903-6306 or by email for questions.

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