On May 23rd, 2019, California Renters Legal Advocacy & Education Fund filed suit to force Calabasas (in LA County) to follow state housing law.

In January 2019, Calabasas City Council passed an ADU ordinance ostensibly to bring their code into compliance with state law. However, they couldn’t quite bring themselves to comply.

Calabasas has always required two covered parking spaces (aka a two car garage) for every single family home in the city. In enacting their latest ADU ordinance, the City Council preserved this requirement, clarifying that a new garage would have to be constructed if an existing garage was converted to an ADU.

Converting a garage to an apartment is the easiest way to add housing to California’s single-family neighborhoods. Requiring that the converted garage is replaced with another garage destroys this valuable and plentiful source of new housing. When setback, distance between buildings, lot coverage, and other requirements are factored in, the covered parking requirement can make ADU development physically impossible on many lots in the city. Moreover, requiring a new garage be built to replace the one being converted to housing destroys financial benefit to the homeowner of converting an existing garage. The whole promise of ADU development is that it could be a cheap, readily available, fast source of desperately needed new housing.

Luckily, we have a state law that prioritizes homes for people, not cars. Assembly Bill 2299, enacted in 2016, prohibits localities from requiring replacement covered parking when an existing garage is converted to an ADU. Calabasas has willfully ignored this state mandate in an effort to preserve is covered parking.

Calabasas is not alone in its nonfeasance. There are at least 6 Southern California cities that are trying to illegally restrict converting garages into ADUs. We are working to change this practice for good by setting an example in Calabasas. We may also sue the other cities: El Segundo, Whittier, Monterey Park, Chino Hills, and Bellflower to hold them accountable to their duty under state law.