Planning Commission Passes Ordinance to Incentivize ADU Construction

The Planning Commission has passed an ordinance to incentivize the installation of Accessory Dwelling Units (ADU), small self-contained apartments that sit on residential lots. Once referred to as granny flats, these units are a key strategy to address the state’s housing shortage because they add housing stock in areas where apartment complexes are not allowed. This is especially impactful in Beverly Hills where 75% of the land is occupied by single-family homes. 

Beginning in 2017, state legislators passed a series of laws making it easier to build ADUs. This includes eliminating minimum lot sizes for ADUs, relaxing parking requirements and streamlining by-right approvals. 

The ordinance passed by the Planning Commission on Jan. 25 ensures that the city’s ADU standards align with those of the state and, in some cases, go above and beyond them to help entice homeowners to build ADUs. The new rules will come before City Council for final approval in an upcoming meeting. 

“This is progress and it also sends a message,” said Planning Commissioner Myra Demeter. “I hope it tells the state that we’re trying to encourage these types of developments and we will continue to look into it.”

Beverly Hills is currently at risk of losing control over local zoning as the state has yet to approve the city’s Housing Element plan outlining how it will create capacity for some 3,100 new units by 2029. The updated ADU ordinance is one of many recent changes the city has made to promote housing development and help meet Sacramento’s demands. 

The updated ordinance passed by Planning Commissioners goes beyond the state’s regulations by adding greater allowances for maximum lot size, building height and floor area in many residential areas. 

The Trousdale neighborhood is the only exception to some of these bonuses, a decision commissioners made in order to ensure potential ADUs do not infringe on residents’ views. This was a concern brought up by representatives for the Trousdale Neighborhood Estate Association during public comment. 

“Trousdale already has its own set of (housing development) rules and they abide by their own guidelines,” said Demeter. “One of the very, very sacred things that they have is the view and so we know that’s very important, and many people buy there for the protected view.”

Planning Department staff are also working on creating pre-approved plans for different types of ADUs, including backyard cottages, garage or attic conversions and apartments attached to the main home. The hope is that these templates will further incentivize the use of ADUs by making the design and permitting process easier. 

“I love, by the way, the idea of pre-approved plans,” said Demeter. “It takes a lot of work but I think that’s definitely something that we should be working towards.”

The city has already seen a boom in ADU installation in recent years. Over 80 permits were issued for ADUs from 2019 to 2023, and staff estimate the number will grow to 150 ADUs throughout the 2021-2029 Housing Element period.

Residents interested in learning more about the city’s ADU requirements can visit