Gov. Brown Signs Bill Reducing Barriers to Building Additional Housing

Supported by affordable housing advocates, business and environmentalists, SB 1069 will expand supply of low-cost housing in California
Photo Courtesy: By D Ramey Logan (Own work) [CC BY 4.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Sacramento – State Senator Bob Wieckowski’s (D-Fremont) bill to reduce the barriers California homeowners face when seeking to build an accessory dwelling unit (granny flat) on their property will take effect this January after Governor Jerry Brown signed the bill today.  Senate Bill 1069 is the most extensive bill on accessory dwelling units to be signed in almost 15 years.  The Governor signaled his support for the bill in principle during his revise of the state budget in May.

“Removing the most egregious obstacles to building these units will help to increase the supply of affordable housing in California and allow more people to remain in the communities they call home,” said Wieckowski, a member of the Senate’s Transportation and Housing Committee.  “SB 1069 returns more power to homeowners and reins in some of the enormous fees and requirements levied by local agencies.  Governor Brown’s action will lead to more housing, more jobs and shorter commutes.” 

SB 1069 eases regulatory burdens by eliminating excessive sprinkler requirements, providing several exceptions to parking restrictions, such as if the home is located within a half mile from public transit, requiring ministerial approval for the remodeling of existing homes and garages when they are compliant with building and safety codes, and making utility connection fees for brand new construction proportionate to the burden the accessory dwelling will place on the water or sewer systems.

“Governor Brown’s signing of Senator Bob Wieckowski’s SB 1069 creates a powerful tool for addressing California’s housing crisis by removing barriers that have discouraged homeowners from adding affordable second units,” said Jim Wunderman, President and CEO of the Bay Area Council. “The Bay Area Council sponsored this bill because it has the potential to create thousands of affordable, accessory dwelling units statewide without any taxpayer subsidies. It’s a critical part of the solution to our state housing crisis.  We thank Senator Wieckowski for his leadership on this important issue, as well as all of our many coalition partners who advocated for its passage through the Legislature.”

The White House’s Housing Development Toolkit cited California’s actions to reduce barriers and called for allowing more accessory dwelling units to help meet the affordable housing challenge.

“Accessory dwelling units offer one solution to this challenge by facilitating intergenerational living arrangements and allowing more seniors to age in place, something that nearly 90 percent of older Americans desire for themselves and their families,” the report said.

A 2015 University of California, Berkeley Center for Community Innovation study found a substantial market of Bay Area homeowners interested in building an accessory unit, but a significant number were deterred by unnecessary regulatory barriers.  Attesting to the economic benefits the bill will provide, the California Chamber of Commerce placed SB 1069 on its “job creator” list of state legislation. 

SB 1069 is supported by a huge coalition, including the Bay Area Council, AARP, the California Housing Consortium, the California Teachers Association, the East Bay Leadership Council, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and a number of environmental and affordable housing organizations.

Senator Wieckowski represents the 10th District, which includes southern Alameda County and northeast Santa Clara County.