SB 831 — Attempting to Streamline Approval of Granny Flats

Keith DunnaganIt is well known that California has a significant housing shortage problem. SB 831 which is currently working its way through the California legislature is an attempt to encourage development of ADUs and streamline the approval process. Where this ultimately goes, time will tell but easing up the regulatory process will assist in the approval of secondary dwelling units.

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SB 831 — Attempting to Streamline Approval of Granny Flats

By D. Keith B. Dunnagan, Esq. and Sierra Grandbois


SB 831It is well known that California is currently in the middle of a massive housing crisis. The state is ranked 49th for housing development and it is estimated that at least 125,000 homes a year would need to be built to keep up with the demand.

The California legislature has been working hard at developing solutions to combat the crisis and one bill in particular may be an effective step towards fixing the problem. SB 831, authored by Senator Bob Wieckowski of Fremont and coauthored by Atkins, Skinner, and Wiener, addresses the tight regulations surrounding accessory dwelling units. Accessory dwelling units, otherwise known as “ADUs”, “Granny flats” or “In-law flats” have many restrictions regarding the size of the property, size of the ADU, and additional fees needed to build. These restrictions have led to roughly 200,000 illegal ADUs.

SB 831 seeks to remove these restrictions and offer property owners more freedom. The fees, including school fees, parks, traffic, and architectural review would no longer be necessary to build an ADU. Furthermore, the minimum lot size requirement would disappear so that effectively an ADU could be built anywhere where residential building is allowed.

Besides the removal of fees for building an ADU, SB 831 would grant a 10-year amnesty program for current ADUs that are out of regulations. This program would allow those ADUs that are not compliant with regulations to become compliant without any penalties. This would reduce any hazard or safety issues noncompliant ADUs might cause.
SB 831 also seeks to streamline the application process for building ADUs. It would require that a decision on the application of an ADU be decided within 60 days of filing. If no decision has been made by that time limit, then the application will be automatically granted.

This bill is beneficial in multiple facets. It eases up some of the red tape that homeowners would normally face and encourages the building of more dwellings. Building means more jobs and homes, which will help benefit the economy as well as ease the housing crisis California is facing. ADUs are less expensive to construct than new housing units, so renting out ADUs will provide affordable housing, which the state desperately needs. They also have minimal impact on traffic and neighborhood aesthetics.

Although SB 831 is not a cure-all, to which Senator Wieckowski has freely admitted, it is a building block towards progress. Productive legislation is a key component to helping fix the housing market.


The attorneys of BPE Law Group, PC. have been advising our clients on real estate, business and estate planning issues for over 20 years and have assisted numerous clients in business and real estate matters and have represented clients in hundreds of lawsuits and discovery is a critical component to success in litigation. If you have questions concerning legal matters, give us a call at (916) 966-2260 or e-mail Keith at . Our flat fee consult for new clients may get you the answers you need for the questions you have.

The information presented in this Article is not to be taken as legal advice. Every person’s situation is different. If you are facing a legal issue of any kind, get competent legal advice in your State immediately so that you can determine your best options.