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The San Francisco Board of Supervisors recently approved two significant pieces of legislation that support accessory dwelling units (ADUs), also known as “in-law” or secondary units, in the city. The first, introduced by District 3 Supervisor David Chiu and passed on April 17, enables existing illegal units to be legalized. The second, introduced by District 8 Supervisor Scott Wiener and passed on April 16, allows for the construction of new accessory dwellings in his district. These landmark legislations are huge steps for San Francisco, a city with a long history of unsuccessful attempts to pass such measures.
An accessory dwelling unit, as defined in a 2006 SPUR Housing Policy Report, is an “additional, self-contained dwelling unit located within the same lot as an existing residential building.” They’re often located in converted garages or in backyards as a separate structure. It is estimated that there are anywhere from 30,000 to 50,000 illegal accessory units in San Francisco — all built without obtaining the appropriate permits.
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