Accessory Dwelling Units (ADU) in Berkeley

Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) are self-contained small residential units built on the property of a single family home.
They may be attached (an above the garage unit or a basement unit) or detached  (granny flat, carriage flat, backyard cottage). They limit suburban sprawl, provide new housing and can help homeowners financially.  They enable seniors to remain in their own neighborhoods as they get older and help multigenerational families live close to one another, affordably and to provide support for young children and elderly family members.  They will also help homeowners afford their mortgage payments and provide housing for moderate income renters who cannot afford market rate or qualify for low income housing.

Last year, the California State legislature passed AB 2299 and  SB1069 which went into effect on January 1, 2017,
making it easier for homeowners to build ADUs on their property.  A third law, AB2406, gives cities the option of creating “junior accessory dwelling units” which are units created within the house with an efficiency kitchen and interior connections to the main house. It does not require a private bathroom.  (These units are much less expensive to build than free-standing ADUs.)

The new laws require all cities to adopt ADU regulations that are not more restrictive than the state standards. Cities must allow the ADUs “by right” with no public hearing and must issue permits within 120 days if the units meet the new state standards.  Berkeley has adopted new standards based on the state law.  These new standards ease and/or eliminate the need for parking if the ADU meets certain requirements. Cities may specify the size and height of the ADUs. For Berkeley, the maximum size is 750 square feet; for Oakland, 800 square feet.

To assist in the rollout of the recently passed state ADU regulations, newly elected city council member Ben Bartlett formed an ADU Task Force. I am on that task force, as well as other realtors, architects, planners, developers, mortgage specialists and others.  Last spring, a group of task force members met with the UC Chancellor and staff from the Terner Center for Housing Innovation to talk about how ADUs could help ease the faculty housing crisis at UC Berkeley.  We agreed that ADUs could enable retired faculty and staff stay in their homes as they get older and could create additional options for new faculty members and staff.

To help homeowners find out more about the benefits of ADUs, the task force is holding workshops in each councilmember’s district.  The first one was held on September 28 in Ben Bartlett’s district with others to be scheduled in the next few months.   There will be an Aging in Place panel discussion at the UC Retirement Center on March 29, 2018 with a focus on ADUs.

Past ADU Community Workshops

January 25, 6pm-8pm
Longfellow Middle School
1500 Derby St, Berkeley

With Mayor Arreguin and
Councilmember Bartlett

California has recently made it easier for homeowners to build Accessory Dwelling Units [ADUs), so come learn about how a second unit may fit in your budget and in your backyard.

ADUs can be perfect for seniors who want to age in place, for creating housing for caregivers or extended family, or just earning a little extra cash.


  • The types of ADUs you can build
  • The steps to designing, permitting & building
  • How you can finance your ADU
  • Plenty of time for Q&A

To RSVP or send questions for the panel,contact

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