Rules are relaxed for second homes in Chino Hills

The photo shows an accessory dwelling unit behind a house (not in Chino Hills), as provided in a presentation to the city council.

The advent of accessory dwelling units in Chino Hills began Tuesday when the city council introduced an ordinance that will allow residents more flexibility to design and build small houses on their property.

The state recently enacted laws to accelerate the development of these units, known as ADUs, to address the housing shortage.

The City of Chino approved a similar ordinance earlier this year.

An ADU is an additional small residence on the same property as a single-family home, such as a back house.

ADUs were formerly known as mother-in-law quarters or granny flats.

They provide complete living facilities that include a kitchen, bathroom, living area and sleeping area and can be attached to, detached from, or contained within the primary residence.

An “efficiency” ADU allows a combined living and sleeping area, a full or partial kitchen and a bathroom, and is not intended for more than two people, similar to a studio apartment, that can be attached to, detached from, or contained within the primary residence.

Juniors are new

A “junior” ADU, which would be new in the city, is a dwelling unit no more than 500-square-feet, that is contained in the home or in an attached garage and includes an efficiency kitchen with a cooking facility with appliances, sink, counter, and cabinets, and a bathroom either within the unit or shared with the primary residence.

Unlike the ADU and the efficiency ADU, the junior ADU does not require its own bathroom, said senior planner Ryan Gackstetter.

Residents may have both a junior ADU and a detached ADU of not more than 800-square-feet on their property, Mr. Gackstetter said.

Guest houses may not be developed on a property containing an ADU or junior ADU, he added.

Allowed in HOAs

Residents may build ADUs and junior ADUs on their property even if they live in homeowners’ associations with covenants, codes, and restrictions (CC&Rs) that prohibit such units.

If residents encounter a problem with their homeowners’ association, they are encouraged to reach out to the state, according to the California Department of Housing and Community Development website.

The city is proposing a minimum size of 220-square-feet for ADUs and junior ADUs, and a maximum size of 850-square-feet for an ADU with up to one bedroom, and 1,000-square-feet for an ADU with two or more bedrooms.

Separate utility connections, lines, and meters are required of all detached ADUs, except for those within an existing structure, Mr. Gackstetter said. 

An ADU is exempt from incurring impact fees if less than 750 square feet.

The city council prohibited the building of ADUs in Sleepy Hollow, north and south of Carbon Canyon Road, and the Canon Lane community on the south side of Carbon Canyon Road because of high fire hazard, small lots, hilly terrain, and narrow streets that hinder evacuation efforts and emergency access.


Multi-family residential properties may also have ADUs, Mr. Gackstetter said.

Multiple ADUs may be converted within non-livable areas of multi-family dwelling structures and a portion of existing multi-family dwelling units may be converted into an ADU up to an aggregate of 25 percent of the existing multi-family units, he said. 

Alternatively, a maximum of two detached ADUs may be located on a lot containing existing multi-family dwelling units, he said.

The ordinance is expected to be approved at the Nov. 24 council meeting and must then be submitted to the California Department of Housing and Community Development for review and approval.

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