where the suburbs end

Instead of hunting for easy house flips, Mr. Spicer said, he’s looking for homes on an unusually large lot with a flat, neglected yard that’s primed to begin construction. Anything with the pool is out of the question, he said. A house with an elaborate garden can work but it costs extra to build.

“If it’s all shit back there, that’s the golden ticket,” he said.

Mr. Spicer’s turn of fortune was a byproduct of efforts to address California’s housing shortage. Over the past five years the legislature has passed half a dozen laws that make it much easier to build ancillary housing units (ADUs)—a catchy term for homes that are more colloquially known as units and granny flats.

Cities have lost much of their power to prevent backyard units from being built, and state legislators have tried to speed up construction by slashing development fees, allowing cities to allow them within a few weeks and dedicating them to local governments. The need for parking spaces needs to be banned. Unlike the fight over SB9—this year’s duplex law, which it called a “anarchy” bill that would “destroy neighborhoods” and “begin the end of homeownership in California”—the ADU law passed without comparable Controversy.

“‘Grandma units’ don’t sound intimidating,” said Bob Wekowski, a state senator from the Bay Area city of Fremont, who has passed three ADU bills since 2016.

Last year, San Diego’s city council voted unanimously. Expanding on State Law Allowing bonus units, sometimes as much as half a dozen per lot, if a portion is set aside for middle-income households. There has been an explosion at the behest of development.

California cities issued nearly 13,000 permits for ancillary units in 2020, which is slightly more than 10 percent of the state’s new housing stock and less than 1 percent eight years ago. Its effects are already visible across Southern California: four-unit buildings are rising behind one-story bungalows; The prefabricated studio apartment is being hoisted into the backyard by means of a crane; Block where a new front-yard apartment sits down from a new backyard apartment to a new side-yard apartment across the street.

In response to the new law, entrepreneurs have started a number of companies that specialize in helping people. Plan, design and Construction Backyard units and the coming wave of duplexes. Venture capitalists have poured hundreds of millions of dollars into start-ups like Abodo, which is based in Redwood City, Calif., and builds backyard units in a factory, then delivers them on a truck. Until recently, his business was run by homeowners building ADUs on their property. But according to interviews with planners, lenders and contractors, there has been a surge in interest from upstart developers like Mr Spicer over the past year.

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