Companion Unit Regulations Update

What is a Companion Unit?

A companion unit is a second living unit located on the same lot as a single-family home in the R1 (Single-Family) Zoning district. They are also referred to as "granny units" or "in-law units." Companion units typically contain a bathroom, one or two bedrooms, a kitchen and, sometimes, a garage or carport. Companion units provide housing opportunities within single-family neighborhoods and are either attached to or separated from the main home. 

New State Companion Unit Regulations

In September 2016, Governor Brown signed Senate Bill (SB) 1069 and Assembly Bill (AB) 2299, amending Section 65852.2 of the Government Code. Effective January 1, 2017, this amendment reduces barriers and streamlines approval of companion units. Some of the changes include:

  • exceptions to the amount of required parking;
  • allowance for conversion of existing garages into companion units;
  • reduced building setbacks; and
  • limitations on fire sprinkler and water meter requirements.

See the Senate Bill and California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) Memo summarizing the law for more information.

New City Companion Unit Regulations

On March 28, 2017, the City Council adopted Zoning Ordinance text amendments for new companion unit regulations to align with State requirements. These City regulations were reviewed at the following public hearings:

  • City Council Public Hearing on March 28, 2017. Meeting agenda and staff report are available online (Item 6.1).
  • City Council Second Reading of new Companion Unit Regulations on April 25, 2017. Meeting agenda and staff report are available online (Item 4.1). 

City's New Companion Unit Regulations

Effective May 25, 2017

Previous City Action

On June 7, 2016, the City Council approved amendments to the Companion Unit regulations in the City's Municipal Code. The amendments are intended to encourage more companion units within the City. Materials from the City Council meeting are available online - Item 6.2. The new regulations became effective on July 14, 2016. 

Summary of new Companion Unit Regulations

Adopted Ordinances (full text):

1. Chapter 36 (Zoning Ordinance) and

2. Chapter 41 (Park Land Dedication In-Lieu Fee)


Please contact Diana Pancholi, Associate Planner, by phone at (650) 903-6306 or by email for questions.