August 13, 2020
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Granny units in local area

By: Irene Hilsendager
June 14, 2019

After the terrible firestorm in Oct. of 2017, houses, apartments and even motor homes are at a premium. After watching a granny unit being built down the street, the curiosity of restrictions came to mind. 

The City of Cotati has no restrictions. Many homeowners are looking to make good use of the unused space near the primary dwelling. Many properties in Cotati are zoned to add granny flats in backyard spaces which provides homeowners to have a chance to become a micro real estate developer.

Cotati has six requirements for building a granny flat.

Granny flat: technically referred to as an Accessory Dwelling unit or ADU.

No minimum lot size is required to develop an ADU, other than required by the underlying zoning district by Ca. state standards.

For detached ADUs, the total floor area of the unit shall not be over 1,200 square feet. No maximum floor area for conversions or existing space is established. The minimum floor area for an ADU is 150 square feet again by Ca. state standards and the maximum floor area is 500 square feet.

Properties located within 0.5 miles walking distance from a public transportation are exempt from additional parking requirement. (state mandated).

Specific design styles and restrictions are not specified under state standards.

Under state law, the city must approve or deny any permit application in 120 days or less.

The timeline to finish a granny flat design, permit and new construction or remodel project is typically more than 12 months. Again go to the City of Cotati, check with the city’s zoning department and learn more about the requirements in Cotati.

Rohnert Park has more restrictions. ADUs, also called secondary dwelling units, in-law apartments or granny units, are an important housing resource for communities in the area. 

The City of Rohnert Park has updated their ordinances twice over the past two years primarily in response to a state law that passed in Sept. 2016 requiring cities to loosen requirements around building ADUs. These changes made it more streamlined for people to build an ADU on their property.

The Rohnert park Municipal Code currently allows second dwelling units (or Accessory dwelling units) in single family zoning districts with requirements related to minimum lot size, square footage limits, additional parking, owner occupancy and other provisions. The new state law limits the city’s ability to enforce many of the current provisions in Section 17.07.020.X ADUs off-street parking cannot be required for units contained within the existing space of a single family residence or accessory structure or meeting any of the following criteria as required by state law.

The unit is within one-half mile of public transit.

The unit is within a designated historic district.

The unit is entirely within the principal residence and results in no net increase in habitable floor area on the property.

The unit is in an area where on-street permit parking is required, but such permits are not available to the tenant.

The unit is within one block of a car-share vehicle.

The elimination of the requirement that the property owner maintain residence in the primary unit, and the increase in the allowable square footage of the ADU shall not exceed 50 percent of the existing living area and with a maximum increase in floor area of 1,200 square feet; a total area of floor-space for a detached ADU shall not exceed 1,200 square feet. Until Jan., the RPMC limited second units to 700 square feet. 

There are currently eight ADUs in process of being approved or constructed in the city.

As suggested before, always contact the City of Rohnert Park and the city’s zoning department to learn more about the requirements of Rohnert Park.

Thank you to the cities of Cotati and Rohnert Park for their information.