Accessory dwelling unit ideas
Published - 06/14/21 - 08:30 AM | 3318 views | 0 0 comments | 69 69 recommendations | email to a friend | print

I currently have one of my buyers in escrow on a smaller East County home on a quiet street. While the 3-bed, 2-bath home is a bit on the smaller side, it has a large backyard. My buyers asked what they should do with the large plot in the back and I said, “Maybe an ADU!” And I then had my idea for this month’s real estate article! 

Prior to 2017, it was fairly difficult to have a second unit built on an R1 zoned lot. It was a slow process with high fees and some difficulty in the approval. But several years ago, legislators in Sacramento were debating the strategies of increasing available housing in the state. While little buildable land remains in San Diego County, hiding in plain site was part of the solution: increase density in existing neighborhoods. 

So in 2017, Sacramento passed a number of bills allowing and encouraging more accessory dwelling units (ADUs, granny flats) to be built in existing neighborhoods. Some local jurisdictions in the state (such as Santa Barbara, Walnut Creek, and Brentwood) continued to create barriers. So in 2018 and 2019, Sacramento (which has ultimate authority over local governments) passed additional mandates such as AB68 which further loosened ADU requirements so that some ADUs can be built as close as within four feet of a property line; more than one ADU may now be built on a lot; parking requirements were reduced; and permit fees limited. 

Obviously, the details are intricate, so check with an expert prior to relying on this information. But generally you will get blueprints made (by a local draftsman is typically acceptable) and a soil report completed to obtain a permit from the city. A cement foundation will be laid with plumbing and electrical lines inlaid. Then a structure can be built or a pre-built unit dropped in by crane. Also, garage conversions are now sometimes allowed. 

Additionally, Sacramento is moving towards allowing tall buildings and higher density near high volume transit stations (such as the SDSU station). This is already happening in UTC and Mission Valley. So over the coming decade, the College Area density could greatly increase. 


While prices are still rapidly rising, more inventory is finally hitting the market. Results for month over month changes (May vs. April) in single family property. 

92115 (College Area): New listings increased 8%, inventory of homes increased 40% to 26 homes and the median home price increased 1% to $717,500. 

92119 (San Carlos): New listings increased 36%, the median home price increased 7% from April to $970,750 and inventory increased 18% to 13 homes available. 

92120 (Allied Gardens, Del Cerro): New Listings from April increased 19%, Median price increased 9% to $906,050 and inventory of homes dropped 14% to just 11 homes available for sale. 

If you are interested in buying or selling San Diego property give me a call to schedule a no-obligation meeting to discuss your various options. 858-431-6043.


Sarah Ward is a realtor with Fine & Coastal Real Estate.

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