County to implement new State regulations
on January 1, 2020
Published: December 24, 2019
Changes in State
law related to accessory dwelling units (ADUs) will take effect January 1,
2020. These regulatory updates will remove minimum lot size requirements and
reduce setback requirements, and private covenants (CC&Rs) may no longer
prohibit ADUs on lots zoned for single family dwellings. These changes increase
the number of properties eligible to have ADUs (also known as granny units, in-law
units, and backyard cottages). However, properties must have adequate water and
sewer or septic capacity in order to have an ADU.
“Accessory dwelling units provide
property owners with the opportunity to generate income or house family
members, while helping increase the number of housing units in the county,”
said Board of Supervisors Chair David Rabbitt.
Permit Sonoma will implement
the regulatory changes and work with property owners to permit new ADUs. Zoning
permits will no longer be required for ADUs, though the process will still
require building permits and any applicable related permits such as septic and
Applicants will have three main
steps to apply for a permit. First, the property owner should investigate the
property’s septic suitability. Next, the applicant needs to find out whether
the property has any additional requirements related to water, which will vary
depending on the type of water service and location. Permit Sonoma’s website
has a list of qualified septic consultants that are available to help you
determine whether your property meets well and septic requirements for an ADU.
After confirming that the property meets sanitation and water requirements,
it’s time to submit a building permit application and any other related permits
needed for the project. Permit Sonoma continues to offer reduced permitting
fees for many ADUs.
with an existing or proposed single family residence may qualify for one ADU
and one Junior ADU (JADU), which is a smaller housing unit that can be created
by converting an existing bedroom and adding a small efficiency kitchen.
ADUs cannot be used for vacation or short term rentals of less than 30
days. Some properties may be located in the “Z” (Accessory Dwelling Unit
Exclusion) overlay zoning, which prohibits accessory dwelling units. If your
property does not qualify for an ADU, it may qualify for a JADU. For more
details on ADU requirements, step-by-step instructions for the application
process, and frequently asked questions, please visit sonomacounty.ca.gov/PermitSonoma/ADUs.