Adding accessory dwelling units (ADUs) to residential properties has become a hot topic of discussion lately in Long Beach, California. With the price of homes and rental units skyrocketing, it makes sense that people would want to build a unit of their own, either to rent out for extra income or to house family members in need of an affordable living space.
What Is an ADU?
An ADU is an independent residence located on the same lot as a detached single-family home. The word ‘independent’ is key here. An ADU must have its own kitchen and bathroom, so it can be a self-sufficient residential unit. A garage that has been converted into an additional bedroom for your teenager or a home office, for example, wouldn’t qualify as an ADU, since it doesn’t have its own kitchen or bathroom. A junior accessory dwelling unit, or JADU, is an independent unit that is built within the existing walls of a single-family home, comprised of no more than 500 square feet.”
Grisafe continued, “While the term ‘ADU’ is definitely catching on, many people still refer to these types of structures as ‘mother-in-law units,’ ‘granny flats,’ or simply ‘rental units.’ An ADU can be a studio-style home, a one-bedroom, or even a two-bedroom unit.
Long Beach residents use ADUs for a variety of purposes. Some use them simply to bring in extra income by renting the units out, while others use them to house elderly family members who still want their independence, but who would benefit from being near family. Still others use them as living quarters for out-of-town guests.
Getting Approval to Build an ADU in Long Beach
Getting approvals for any new build in Long Beach will never by “easy,” but fortunately for homeowners wishing to build a an ADU on their property, obtaining the proper approvals is easier than ever! This is thanks to recent California legislation that loosens zoning laws related to ADUs. Assembly Bill 670, which took effect on January 1, 2020, was California’s attempt to encourage homeowners to build ADUs on their properties in order to increase the number of affordable housing units in the state. Not only does the bill relax restrictions, but it also limits impact fees, making the project more affordable.
As of January 2022, the City of Long Beach is looking into further helping Long Beach homeowners by offering pre-approved ADU plans, which will help homeowners save on design fees, and also streamline the permitting process. This would put Long Beach’s policies in line with other California cities, such as Los Angeles and San Jose.
Can HOAs in Long Beach Prevent ADU Construction?
AB 670 effectively invalidates any local restrictions on building ADUs on members’ properties, including restrictions by HOAs. So, if your HOA has language in its bylaws preventing or restricting the building of a backyard unit or the conversion of a garage into an independent dwelling space, those restrictions are now null and void. You can build your ADU—even if you live in an HOA!
However, there is a clause that allows HOAs to place “reasonable restrictions” on ADUs, as long as those restrictions don’t substantially increase the cost of construction or effectively prohibit the building of an ADU. Check with your HOA to see what, if any, new language they have added to their bylaws since AB 670’s passage.
If your HOA has a bylaw that prevents short-term rentals in your neighborhood, that provision likely still applies. In other words, you can’t put your ADU on Airbnb or VRBO and hope to make a killing renting it out to vacationers.
Does Building an ADU in Long Beach Make Financial Sense?
A 2020 survey by California ADU found the average cost to build an ADU in Los Angeles County was $100,000 and the median rental price was $2,000 per month. However, since the cost of rental units has increased substantially since 2020, you may be able to demand an even higher rental amount per month today (although the cost to build one has likely gone up since the survey was conducted as well). In addition, having an ADU on your property will increase the value of your property, allowing you to recoup at least some of your ADU construction costs when you eventually sell your home.
If you’ve always dreamed of bringing in some extra income by building a rental unit on your Long Beach property, now is a great time! With very few restrictions, easier approvals, and reduced fees, your dream of becoming a landlord could become a reality!