Novato approves innovative permitting requirements for accessory dwellings

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Great news for our friends in the north bay! The city council of Novato, California, has approved a new zoning ordinance that creates a new class of ADUs, “Junior Accessory Dwelling Units” or JADUs, with friendlier permitting requirements.

JADUs will be much easier to create than an ADU, with many existing requirements relaxed or removed altogether: JADUs do not require additional parking space, nor do they require expensive fire sprinkler systems. This is big news – stringent parking requirements and the cost of sprinkler systems are common barriers to building an accessory dwelling in many cities. The city will also lower overall permitting costs for JADUs by waiving impact fees and reducing planning permit fees.

There is an important caveat, however. JADUs are meant to be repurposed spaces already attached to an existing home, so a standalone structure cannot be classified as a JADU.

Here’s an overview of the key differences between ADU and JADU permitting in Novato:

ADU Junior ADU
Size 150–750 square feet 150–500 square feet, no building expansion
Access Interior access to main home not required Interior access to main home required, exterior door
Parking One additional space No additional space if existing structure already meets requirements
Kitchen No limits with proper permitting Limits to sink and counter sizes, no gas line
Bathroom Required to qualify as a living space May share the main home’s bathroom

You can read more about these changes in the minutes of the city council meeting.

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