With Marin County experiencing a severe housing crisis, especially for affordable homes for lower income residents, county officials are encouraging the creation of room rentals within existing residences.

The Marin County Board of Supervisors recently voted to waive building and planning fees over the next year for such rentals, called junior accessory dwelling units (JADUs), that typically contain a wet bar and other small food preparation facilities. Accessory dwelling units (ADUs) are allowed to have a complete kitchen, compared with the small food-preparation facilities allowed for JADUs.

The fee waiver is capped at $1,500 for each permit request received before Dec. 31, 2018. Any property owner who benefits from the fee waiver would be prohibited for one year from renting the junior unit as a short-term rental, meaning for 30 days or less.

The fee waiver was prompted by the strain on the regional housing market caused by the loss of thousands of homes in the recent North Bay fires, said Brian Crawford, director of the Marin County Community Development Agency.

“We think it’s a good time to step up our efforts to incentivize property owners to consider creating these units,” Crawford said. “If this temporary program proves to be popular, it could really help alleviate the stress of the severe lack of stock we’re seeing in the local housing market.”

In recognition of some of the highest housing costs in the nation, the state of California has eased regulations on the creation of JADUs. Three bills went into effect in January 2017 to create more freedom for property owners to effectively use rooms within their homes as longer-term rentals.

In Sonoma County, the Santa Rosa City Council approved a series of updates to its “accessory dwelling unit” rules Dec. 5, in an effort to make it easier for homeowners to build additional units on their properties, according to the Press Democrat. One of the elements removed was the requirement for the property owner to occupy at least one of the units on the property.

In March, the county of Sonoma amended its Development Code to implement state law and let a property owner have one JADU and one ADU on the same property.