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Addressing the Housing Crisis: Reducing Granny Unit Cost

When adding onto or significantly modifying your property, you will likely be required to obtain permits. Unfortunately, the permitting process in Santa Cruz County can be costly. According to this Sentinel Article, the average county Planning Department fees for accessory dwelling units less than 640 square feet are from $11,500 to $4,200. These high costs often disincentives homeowners from build accessory dwelling units (ADU’s).

Things are changing.

Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors have approved a three year pilot program to lower development fees of ADUs less than or equal to 640 square feet. The specific Department fees that will be waived include:

  1. Permit Processing
  2. Building Plan Check
  3. Permit Fee
  4. Soils Report Waiver Fee
  5. Environmental Plan Check
  6. Environmental Inspections
  7. Address Review
  8. Zoning Review
  9. General Plan and Technology Fee

On average, ADU fee revenue data for 2017 and 2018 (21 months in total) showed that the sum of these fees was approximately $4,100 for ADUs of 640 square feet or less.

Additional changes made over the past few years have made it easier for homeowners in both incorporated and unincorporated Santa Cruz to build granny units:

  • Santa Cruz County provides an ADU toolkit to help homeowners explore the option of building an ADU in unincorporated Santa Cruz.
  • In the City of Santa Cruz, lot-size restrictions for ADU construction within existing structures has been eliminated.
  • In late 2016, SB 1069 was signed into law, forcing local building and planning departments to loosen ADU related regulations.

With costs and regulations decreasing, you may be interested in exploring the option of building an ADU. If you aren’t sure where to start, give us a call and we can point you in the right direction.

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