San Diego (and by extension, Poway) has been facing an increasing crisis with regards to the affordability of housing, and it is getting worse. A recent report by financial website SmartAsset states that San Diego is on the list of top ten cities for increases in rent as a percent of household income, reaching 32.8% in 2017 (the most recent year for which data is available). That is up 2% from 2014. The cause for the increase can be mainly attributed to higher rents, coupled with disproportionate increases in salary. The end result is that it is increasingly more difficult to afford to rent here.

In an effort to provide more affordable housing statewide, California passed a bill in January of last year that makes it easier for homeowners and developers to build what are called Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) on homes zoned for singe family residences. ADUs are known by many different names. The most common of these are “granny flats,” “guest houses,” or “in-law units.” Historically, these have been allowed on single-family properties; however, they have not been allowed to include a kitchen (to avoid the ability to rent them out as separate rental units).

Poway adopted its own version of this late last year, making it easier, more affordable, and code compliant to build and own an ADU within the city of Poway. The size of the ADU can be between 500 and 1,500 square feet (up to 50% of the size of the main house). Best of all, an ADU can even be made from a converted garage (with exceptions)! The permits for the building of these ADU units have been cut in half, making it that much more affordable, too. The best news of all is that these ADU’s can now include a kitchen with a stove and can be rented out as separate units.

This is very good news for both homeowners and renters alike. Homeowners are able to take advantage of the new code to create some rental income on their home property to help offset their mortgage payments, while renters are given more options (theoretically affordable options) on places to live. Another benefit is that this law allows for more multigenerational living. This is becoming more popular, as children are coming back home to live with their parents, or older parents are moving in with their children, all to combat the high price of living we pay here as part of our “sunshine tax.”

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