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Accessory Dwelling Units Reported in Record Numbers

Citrus Heights, CA (MPG)  |  By Thomas J. Sullivan
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Image courtesy of the City of Citrus Heights

CITRUS HEIGHTS, CA (MPG) - An accessory dwelling unit (ADU), known as a “mother-in-law” or “granny flat,” is a smaller home with complete independent living facilities on the same parcel as a “primary” home is becoming a popular way to address the ongoing crisis.

In 2022, the city of Citrus Heights issued a record number of 33 building permits for the construction of accessory dwelling units (ADUs), a 250 percent increase over the previous year, and over a 600 percent increase since 2017, when many state and local laws were relaxed to encourage them, said Meghan Huber, Economic Development and Community Engagement Director for the City of Citrus Heights.

ADUs can generally take many forms, varying in size from 220 square-foot studios to 1,200 square-foot units with multiple bedrooms, containing everything someone needs to live, including a kitchen, bathroom and a place to sleep.

ADUs are typically small homes that provide complete independent living facilities on the same parcel as a “primary” home. 

The City’s recent increase in ADUs permits can also be attributed to the popularity of the City of Citrus Heights’ Permit-Ready Accessory Dwelling Unit Program (PRADU), Huber said.

Funded by a grant from the State Department of Housing and Community Development, the City’s PRADU program provides free, pre-approved building plans for Citrus Heights property owners. Six of the 33 permits issued in 2022 were for “permit-ready” PRADU units.

The difference in approval time by applicants who submit ADU building permits through the PRADU process tends to be a bit quicker than those submitted through an architect, Huber explained.

“The permit review time is significantly reduced since the permit-ready plans have already been through the review process for compliance with building codes,” Huber said. 

Has thought been given to adding additional approved PRADU plan designs to the current program, given the city’s diverse housing mix? That’s entirely possible, Huber said.

General examples of ADUs include a basement conversion, converted garage, or either an attached or detached auxiliary dwelling unit.

“The PRADU program was paid for utilizing grant funding awarded to the city.  In the future, the city may consider adding more pre-approved options, if funding becomes available,” Huber said.

She added that general feedback from owners utilizing the PRADU program has been positive.

“In most cases, the unit is for a family member who needs accommodations promptly, so they appreciate not only the cost savings, but the time saved using the pre-approved models,” Huber said. “The biggest challenge for any ADU project, not necessarily the PRADU program, is financing the construction,” Huber said.

ADUs are becoming a popular way to provide housing for families, for those looking to downsize, or as an investment for rental income.  Property owners may see savings when they build ADUs since utility services are already in place, as there is no general need to purchase additional land.

The city’s PRADU plans include 1 or 2-bedroom units with varying exterior styles and sizes ranging from 499 to 749 square feet, Huber said. The program eliminates both the need to hire an architect and the plan review process, saving Citrus Heights property owners more than $7,000 in plan preparation fees, according to a recent city press release..

The city web page at features helpful information concerning auxiliary dwelling unit (ADU) zoning regulations and general site plans. For more information, contact the Planning Division at 916-727-4740 or by e-mail