LA City Council approves ADU amnesty program

A mere few years ago, approximately one out of every four residences constructed in Los Angeles was an Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU). These units are widely regarded as a mutually beneficial solution to tackle the housing crisis in LA. Not only do they provide housing for those in need, but homeowners who build ADUs can also generate additional income to contribute towards their mortgages. It’s a win-win situation for both housing accessibility and financial support.

However, throughout the pandemic, certain homeowners neglected an essential requirement for their ADUs by failing to apply for a certificate of occupancy. According to real estate agent Juan Alderete, obtaining permits might have posed challenges for property owners during the pandemic due to the closure of specific sections within the city’s planning department. Alderete also noted that the process of acquiring permits is frequently expensive and time-consuming, discouraging some homeowners from pursuing them.

Presently, in order to obtain permits, property owners would need to revert the residential units back to their original state, initiate the process of applying for a certificate of occupancy specifically for the garage, and subsequently reconstruct their ADU.

This circumstance prompted City Council member Monica Rodriguez to introduce a motion to the council in December, seeking the elimination of this requirement. The motion clarifies that “in other words, a garage that has been converted into a residential unit without proper authorization must first be fully permitted as a garage before the applicant can proceed to legalize and convert their unit into an ADU.”

In April, the LA City Council granted unanimous approval to the motion, effectively eliminating the time-consuming and costly obstacle, on the condition that homeowners commit to allocating the units for affordable housing purposes.

Council member Rodriguez assures that this streamlined approach will not compromise the safety of the units. Instead, it aims to alleviate bureaucratic hurdles and facilitate the inclusion of additional housing units into the market in Los Angeles, where there is a scarcity of housing options.

Council member Monica Rodriguez stated, ‘Through the establishment of a process that offers amnesty to individuals for bringing their properties into compliance, we are actively fostering a safer housing supply in the city of Los Angeles than what presently exists.’

It is important to note that the program is solely temporary in nature.