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Rental complex transformed into a single-family home: the future of the Californian suburbs?

Instead of looking for easy house reversals, Mr Spicer said, he’s looking for homes on unusually large lots with a flat, unkempt yard to start building on. Anything that has a swimming pool is out of the question, he said. A house with an elaborate garden can work but costs more to pull up.

“If everything is dirty there, it’s the golden ticket,” he said.

Mr. Spicer’s fortune trick was a byproduct of California’s efforts to address its housing shortage. Over the past five years, the legislature has passed half a dozen laws that greatly facilitate the construction of accessory housing units (ADUs) – a catch-all term for homes more colloquially known as units. from grandmother’s in-laws and apartments.

Cities have lost most of their power to prevent the construction of garden units, and state lawmakers have tried to speed up construction by cutting development costs, forcing cities to allow them in a matter of weeks. and banning local governments from requiring dedicated parking spaces. Unlike the battles over SB 9 – this year’s duplex law, which has been dubbed a ‘chaos’ bill that would’ destroy neighborhoods’ and be ‘the beginning of the end of homeownership. California ”- ADU laws were passed without any controversial comparison.

“Grandma’s units” don’t seem intimidating, “said Bob Wieckowski, a senator from the Fremont Bay area, who has passed three ADU bills since 2016.

Last year, the San Diego city council voted unanimously to expand state law by allowing bonus units, sometimes up to half a dozen per lot, if a portion is set aside for households at modest income. Development exploded at the right time.

California cities issued about 13,000 ancillary unit permits in 2020, representing just over 10% of the state’s new housing stock, down from less than 1% eight years ago. The effect is already visible throughout Southern California: four-unit apartment buildings towering behind one-story bungalows; the prefabricated studios are hoisted into the backyards via a crane; blocks where a new front yard apartment is across from a new courtyard apartment downstairs from a new side yard apartment.

In response to the new legislation, contractors have started a host of businesses specializing in helping with the planning, design and construction of garden units and the next wave of duplexes. Venture capitalists have invested hundreds of millions of dollars in start-ups like Abodu, which is based in Redwood City, Calif., And build backyard units at a factory, then deliver them to a truck. Until recently, their business was run by owners who built ADUs on their property. But over the past year, there has been a resurgence of interest from beginning developers like Mr. Spicer, according to interviews with planners, lenders and entrepreneurs.

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