Efforts to ease Accessory Dwelling Unit building process continue in Napa County

April 4, 2022 by Edward Booth in the Napa Valley Register

Approvals for Accessory Dwelling Units, touted by lawmakers as one way to help solve California’s housing crisis, have been picking up across Napa County and California over the last few years.

Still, the need for housing units still remains astronomically higher in California than what the slowly increasing number of ADUs can provide for. California has a housing shortage of about 2 million homes statewide, according to a 2018 state report, while the number of ADU approvals statewide have averaged roughly 11,000 annually over the past few years.

Even so, efforts to smooth the ADU application process and spur interest in developing the units among local residents are ongoing, in the hopes that ADUs will help solve at least a small share of the housing crisis.
Accessory Dwelling Units are, at a basic level, separate, self-contained living units that can be attached or detached from single-family homes. ADU development has boomed in recent years as a result of state laws that sped up and eased the approval of such units at the local government level.

But easing approval of permit applications doesn’t help residents figure out if they want to build an ADU in the first place. The mission of the Napa Sonoma ADU Center is to help close that information gap, said Renée Schomp, director of the center. It started up in 2020 through a joint effort from the Napa Valley Community Foundation and Community Foundation Sonoma County, she said, both of which were concerned about housing affordability in the North Bay.

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