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San Diego Housing Commission releases granny flats pilot program report

Ashley Mazanec's tiny home is shaded by a large palm tree, Sept. 13, 2017.
Alison St John
Ashley Mazanec's tiny home is shaded by a large palm tree, Sept. 13, 2017.

The San Diego Housing Commission Monday completed a pilot program to construct five Accessory Dwelling Units — sometimes referred to as "granny flats" — and provide a report on the lessons learned to help San Diego homeowners considering building the units.

"The rising cost of housing is far outpacing people's income, and the dream of owning a home is becoming more and more unreachable for families," said City Councilwoman Vivian Moreno, who represents Council District 8, the location of SDHC's five ADUs. "The findings from the pilot program will help homeowners throughout our city understand the process and costs associated with creating Accessory Dwelling Units on their property, which increases housing in our region."

The ADUs were developed in available yard space at five single-family homes owned and rented by SDHC's nonprofit affiliate as affordable housing.


"Our affordable housing supply continues to be a critical issue affecting all San Diegans," said Council President Pro Tem Stephen Whitburn. "The need for affordable housing far exceeds our housing production and has led to many of our residents being unable to afford living in our city.

"As the council and mayor continue to push for housing solutions, we must work together to overcome this crisis affecting San Diegans," Whitburn said.

SDHC published its report about the ADU pilot program on its website at

"ADUs are an important option available to create new rental homes to address the housing shortage in the city of San Diego," SDHC President and CEO Richard C. Gentry said. "The lessons learned from the San Diego Housing Commission's program will help homeowners understand cost, timelines and other aspects of development as they consider building ADUs."

To develop the ADUs in its pilot program, SDHC modified plans from Encinitas to ensure they fulfilled San Diego city code requirements. SDHC submitted those final plans to the city and, upon final approval, will make them available as permit-ready plans for other San Diego homeowners.


Cost estimates to build a AUD, based on SDHC's pilot program, range from $116,803 for a 224-square-foot studio to $342,078 for a 1,199-square-foot three-bedroom unit. The building time may range from 10 to 26 months, depending on the type of ADU.

ADUs were identified as one of the five main sources of potential new housing in the city of San Diego over 10 years, through 2028, in SDHC's report released Monday. The number of ADUs permitted for construction in the city rose from 32 in 2017 to 266 in 2018 and 627 in 2019. In 2020, 493 ADUs were permitted for construction, according to the city's annual housing inventory report.

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