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County Ordinance Eases Process for Building Accessory Dwellings for Additional Housing

24 September 2020

RIVERSIDE COUNTY – A new county ordinance now in effect makes it easier for property owners in unincorporated communities of Riverside County to add smaller housing units onto their properties that can provide additional housing choices for more people.


Event date: 9/24/2020 - 10/7/2120

County Ordinance Eases Process for Building Accessory Dwellings for Additional Housing

The Riverside County Board of Supervisors last month adopted the Additional Residential Accommodations ordinance. The ordinance implements new state laws on “accessory dwelling units” (ADUs) aimed at helping Californians with high housing costs.

Accessory dwelling units are additional units that are attached to, detached from, or within a primary residence. With permanent provisions for living, sleeping, eating, cooking, and sanitation, they provide complete independent living facilities for one or more persons. ADUs are also known as accessory apartments, in-law units, granny flats, and backyard cottages.

The county ordinance, which streamlines the permitting process for ADUs, went into effect today (September 24), and applies to unincorporated areas of Riverside County.

“Accessory dwelling units advance housing justice by removing barriers to affordable housing. They are a major step towards increasing the supply of attainable housing, and helping address California’s housing crisis,” said Supervisor V. Manuel Perez. “This ordinance facilitates the construction of new housing, thereby lowering housing costs for people struggling to find an affordable place to live. ADUs can also provide space with privacy to allow extended family to stay near for support, or even function as quarantine space during the pandemic or a work from home setting.”

The county ordinance allows for three new types of additional residential accommodations: ADUs, Junior ADUs, and “Ranchets.” All are allowed “by-right,” meaning that the owner only needs an approved building permit to construct the unit. There is no land-use permit required

ADUs may include bedrooms or simply be a studio, and are a maximum of 1,000 square feet. They can be constructed as attached/detached structures or interior units. If attached to or detached from the primary dwelling, they must have a four-foot minimum setback.

Junior ADUs must be built inside a house, and cannot exceed 500 square feet in area. They must include a cooking area within the unit. They can contain their own bathroom separate from the primary residence, or share a bathroom with the main residence

State law allows single-family lots to have up to one interior ADU or junior ADU, and up to one detached ADU. Lots with multi-family dwellings may have one or more interior units and up to two detached ADUs.

A third type of new residential accommodation, available only for the eastern Coachella Valley, is a Ranchet. For owners of two-acre minimum lots, Ranchets allow for four manufactured or mobile home units on the property. This change, allowing “Ranchets,” is supplemental to the state laws allowing ADUs and Junior ADUs, and was added with the support of the Fourth District Housing Review Committee Advisory Council.

Ranchets are intended to help provide the same allowances that ADUs and Junior ADUs provide for lots with conventional homes, but using manufactured homes or mobile homes, which are more prevalent dwelling types in the eastern Coachella Valley

“The ranchets were added as a new type of housing for the eastern Coachella Valley, and it does help with the issue of affordable housing and getting people into homes. We also are working on longer-term strategies to secure infrastructures, such as water and sewer lines, that is needed to build more housing in the eastern Coachella Valley,” said Perez.

Additional information is available on the Riverside County Planning Department Web site,