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The rules for building an accessory dwelling unit in Alhambra

Signs like this exemplify Alhambra's emphasis on neighborhood beautification. This issue is addressed in the city's draft general plan. Photo by David Muñoz.


Alhambra , CA United States

The Alhambra City Council passed an ordinance last Monday, clarifying that any granny flats, garage homes and other accessory dwelling units built in the city would have to be constructed on a lot of at least 6,500 square feet and conform to minimum width and depth requirements.

The ordinance’s original language was ambiguous, said City Attorney Joseph Montes, leading some applicants arguing that they could forgo one or more of the lot size requirements. The new language makes it explicit that exceptions can be made for ADUs that don’t conform to zoning requirements other than lot size, width and depth.

In addition to being at least 6,500 square feet, a lot must be a minimum of 50 feet wide and 130 feet deep. The ordinance also specifies minimum setbacks. The property owner must build an additional parking space per bedroom added, or replace parking at one-to-one ratio if a garage is being converted.

This measure was passed last November to conform to a state law that would make it easier for California residents to build ADUs. The state as well as various cities are looking to ADUs to help alleviate California’s housing crisis.

The City of Alhambra has received 70 applicants for ADUs since rules were relaxed. Fifty-three applications have been approved.

For more information about ADU requirements, contact Alhambra’s Department of Community Development.

Updated Friday, July 6, 2018 with information about additional ADU requirements.

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