Confusion is a word we have invented for an order which is not understood.

– Henry Miller

The new ADU laws went into effect statewide in California on January 2, 2020 and there is already mass confusion over the triplexing of lots with a Single-Family house, an Accessory Dwelling Unit and a Junior Accessory Dwelling Unit.

So far two real world examples in LA City and LA County illustrate that these jurisdiction are only allowing Junior ADUs in space attached to the main house or carved from within the main house.

SB68 States:

(A) One accessory dwelling unit and one junior accessory dwelling unit per lot with a proposed or existing single-family dwelling if all of the following apply:

(i) The accessory dwelling unit or junior accessory dwelling unit is within the proposed space of a single-family dwelling or existing space of a single-family dwelling or accessory structure and may include an expansion of not more than 150 square feet beyond the same physical dimensions as the existing accessory structure. An expansion beyond the physical dimensions of the existing accessory structure shall be limited to accommodating ingress and egress.

(ii) The space has exterior access from the proposed or existing single-family dwelling.

(iii) The side and rear setbacks are sufficient for fire and safety. The local ordinance provides one path, but you may find that local rules make it difficult to fit an ADU on your property. If this turns out to be the case, you can take advantage of the state rules, which all but guarantee each home one backyard detached ADU, and potentially a small Junior ADU converted from existing space like a garage.

So therefore the law establishing the ADU along with the Junior ADU so three on a lot is silent on whether the garage that the JADU is created from must be attached to the main house. However it certainly implies that it is possible.

One of the main lobbying groups for AB68 is California Renter’s Legal Advocacy. In a recent article they state that the garage can be detached. And in their illustrated example the JADU is detached. So there is a lot to clear up.

“After the new laws go into effect, the easiest way to triplex-ize such a property will be to convert the garage into a Junior ADU (JADU) and build a new, detached ADU in the backyard. The JADU must be contained mostly within the space of the existing garage or other accessory structure, with the addition of 150 sq feet allowed to provide for an entryway. The ADU may be located anywhere on the lot, subject only to 4 foot setbacks from the side and rear lot lines, a 16 foot height limit and a maximum footprint of 800 square feet.