A Junior Accessory Dwelling Unit (JADU) is an additional, independent living unit created through the conversion of a portion of a single-family dwelling. The State of California recently adopted legislation (SB 13, AB 68 and AB 881) that defines the standards applicable to Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) and Junior Accessory Dwelling Units (JADUs). One of the most significant changes is a provision permitting both an ADU and a JADU on the same lot with an existing or proposed single-family dwelling. This means that you can obtain two rental units to your property, an ADU plus a JADU, in addition to the main house.
JADU Rules and the Differences Between ADUs and JADUs
ADUs are larger, in many cases up to 1,200 square feet are allowed. A full kitchen (not a kitchenette) is required, as is a bathroom separate from the main house. Depending on local ordinance, its own separate entry, additional or replacement parking facilitation, and owner-occupancy may be required. For both ADUs and JADUs simple ministerial (building permit) approval processing is all that is required: local jurisdictions cannot impose the time-consuming and laborious additional burden of discretionary (aka development) permit processing.
Conversely, JADU features summarize as follows:
• Size: 500 sq. ft. max.
• Placement: Must be within a planned or existing single-family dwelling or accessory dwelling.
• Extension: May include an expansion of up to 150 sq. ft. beyond the footprint of the existing accessory structure, but this expansion is limited to accommodating ingress and egress.
• Exterior Access: A separate entrance for the JADU from the proposed or existing single-family dwelling is required.
• Bathroom: May have it’s own bathroom or one shared with the single-family dwelling.
• Kitchen: Must meet “Efficiency Kitchen” requirements.
• Parking: No parking required for a JADU.
Can the JADU have Interior Access to the Main Residence?
Yes, the attached unit may have interior access to the main residence or attached structure. In some jurisdictions but not all, the connecting door may need to be a 1-hour rated door pursuant to the fire protections in the Building Code.
What is a “Kitchen” vs. “Efficiency Kitchen” and Which is Required?
ADUs are required to have kitchens. JADUs are required to have efficiency kitchens.
A “kitchen” is any room or portion of a room used or intended or designed to be used for cooking and/or the preparation of food and containing all of the following: a sink having a drain outlet larger than 1.5 inches in diameter, a refrigerator larger than 2.5 cubic feet, a built-in permanent cooking appliance typically including a 2-burner gas or 220-volt electric range/oven with a range/hood ventilation system, plus space for food preparation and storage.
An “efficiency kitchen” is a limited kitchen facility that includes a sink, a refrigerator, small electric kitchen appliances that do not require electrical service greater than 120 volts, an appropriately sized food preparation counter, and storage cabinets. In some jurisdictions, gas or propane cooking appliances are not allowed.
Are JADUs Subject to Connection and Capacity Fees?
No, JADUs shall not be considered a separate or new dwelling unit for the purposes of fees and as a result should not be charged a fee for providing water, sewer or power, including a connection fee. These requirements apply to all providers of water, sewer and power, including non-municipal providers. Local governments may adopt requirements for fees related to parking, other service or connection for water, sewer or power, however, these requirements must be uniform for all single family residences and JADUs are not considered a new or separate unit.
Are Fire Sprinklers Required?
Yes, a local government may adopt requirements related to fire and life safety requirements. However, a JADU shall not be considered a new or separate unit. In other words, if the primary unit is not sprinklered, then the JADU must be treated the same.
JADUs offer attractive construction options that make sense in a number of cases. For example, they may share systems with the original dwelling, leading to simpler renovation plans. In addition, they can contain a very simple kitchen with small appliances and share a bathroom with the original dwelling. All of this means that the development costs for JADUs are far lower. While they can be rented out, they’re just as often designed for cohabitation. So if you’re motivated and searching for ways to maximize rental income, home appreciation, and living space, it might make sense to invest in an ADU as well as a JADU; it is your legal right to have both.
For Further Reading:
• The Department of Housing and Community Development has published a helpful guide to JADUs, “Frequently Asked Questions: Junior Accessory Dwelling Units”. The link is: https://www.hcd.ca.gov/policy-research/docs/faqsadujr.pdf
• The County of Santa Cruz Planning Department’s guide to JADUs as well as ADUs is at: https://www.sccoplanning.com/ADU/FAQ.aspx
• City of Santa Cruz Planning Department’s “Standards for JADUs/Jr. ADUs/Junior Accessory Dwelling Units” is found at: https://www.cityofsantacruz.com/home/showpublisheddocument/79262/637275737166700000