Housing Group Sues Whittier Over Granny Flats

Construction of backyard homes is one of the key fronts in California’s housing war. Now, the California Association of Realtors has a plan to make sure cities are permitting these accessory dwelling units (ADU).

C.A.R has formed a nonprofit to file suit against cities which it says are skirting housing laws. The Californians for Homeownership’s first order of business: getting ADUs approved in the L.A. County city of Whittier.

"C.A.R. has long supported affordable housing through its legislative efforts and we want to make sure that cities comply," said C.A.R. President Jared Martin of the group's lawsuit (Yahoo Finance).

"State law is simple: If you own a single-family home in California and your garage can be safely converted to housing, you are allowed to convert it," said Matthew Gelfand, the in-house litigator for the Californians for Homeownership nonprofit. "Whittier is one of a small number of cities that is refusing to comply with the state law. These cities hope that they can get away with their illegal behavior because homeowners are ill-equipped to sue. Our lawsuit sends Whittier and cities like it a clear message: No city is above the law."

Effective 2017, state law makes it much easier for homeowners to add ADUs to existing structures. 5,000 homeowners in the City of Los Angeles are now applying to build ADUs on a yearly basis. A number of municipalities are still alleged to be non-compliant, however. Californians for Homeownership has been monitoring these cities and policies for more than a year.

According to Yahoo Finance, Merced, Vista, Rialto and Modesto have already changed course on ADUs to prevent litigation.


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