A Lake Forest man wants to build a 500-square-foot cottage in his backyard so his parents can live with him when they retire.
A Newport Beach woman with an eight-car garage wants to convert part of it into living space for a relative.
And a Costa Mesa woman wants to build a 420-square-foot unit atop her garage for her daughter to use while she attends medical school.
Granny flats are not new, and Orange County municipal codes long have allowed them. But they’ve mostly been restricted to homes on larger lots with single-family zoning.
Now, cities throughout the region are reforming their laws to make it even easier for homeowners to build second units on their property, allowing them on smaller lots with fewer parking restrictions.
Additionally, new laws — adopted or under review from Laguna Beach to Pasadena — could make thousands of illegal guest houses across the Southland eligible for proper permitting.
The activity is the result of a new state law that took effect at the beginning of the year designed to increase housing and perhaps help ease the housing crisis.
The legislation signed by Gov. Jerry Brown last year encourages construction of mother-in-law units by making it easier and cheaper while increasing affordable housing options.
“California is in a housing crisis, and allowing people to modify their existing home or build a small cottage in their backyard will increase the rental supply at no cost to taxpayers,” state Sen. Bob Wieckowski, D-Fremont, author of one of two bills that’s easing regulation of granny flats. “It will also enable people of all ages to stay in the community they like without having to move away from their family, friends, work or school,” Wieckowski said.
Mike Balsamo, chief executive of the Building Industry Association of Southern California, said granny flats will be “a drop in the bucket” in terms of solving the housing crisis. But, he said, “we’ll take it.”
If just 10 percent of…