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Marin County extends fee reductions, waivers for accessory dwellings

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Marin County has approved a package of incentives aimed at encouraging construction of accessory dwelling units, housing which shares a lot with an existing single family home.

The board of supervisors on Tuesday gave approval to lower building and permit fees, saying it was a measure to help with the county’s “crisis” in its lack of affordable housing. The incentives are intended to remain in place through December. State law now requires local governments to open the doors to so-called “granny units” though the county states it has some policies in place to do so since 2017.

“The cost of housing in Marin, considered a crisis by the Board, is regularly displacing people who have been priced out and preventing people who have jobs in Marin from living close to their workplaces. Thousands of people grew up or work in Marin have been unable to find local housing that fits into their budget, prompting permanent relocation or long commutes,” the county stated.

The board extended and expanded authority by building officials to waive or reduce fees for eligible ADUs or Junior Dwelling Units. Authority was extending to allow the county Community Development Agency Director to waive or reduce building permit fees for eligible JADUs up to $1,500 per unit or up to $2,500 per ADUS. Additional fee waives become available under the plan if a builder is renting to lower income tenants.

ADUs typically have a full kitchen and bathroom while JADUs are converted from an existing bedroom and have smaller food preparation area, sometimes share bathrooms. Both types of units have entrances/exits separate from the property’s main entrance/exits.

“Property owners planning to create new units could save up to $2,500 for qualified ADU projects rented above 120% of the area median income, and $1,500 for new JADU construction. The waivers would cover a significant proportion of permit costs, which averaged $8,600 in 2019. In addition, road impact fees would be waived for the owners of qualified projects,” the county’s announcement stated.

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