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Build an ADU that’s 750 square feet or smaller & avoid city’s substantial growth impact fees
An example of an auxiliary dwelling unit built behind an existing home.

If you’ve ever wandered through “model” studio apartments in an Ikea showroom you will understand that a lot of living can be packed into spaces smaller than 750 square feet.

It is why the City of Manteca is embracing state efforts to encourage homeowners to add auxiliary dwelling units (ADUs).

While part of it isn’t by choice given the state makes it clear they must be allowed and delineates what roadblocks local jurisdiction are prohibited from trying to use to prevent them from being built, the city sees it as an effective way to generate more affordable houses.

They intend to make basic plans available in a bid to build upon the 17 ADU applications they processed in the past year. At the same time, they intend to take advantage of state law to put some design rules in place to make sure ADUs blend as seamlessly as possible into existing neighborhoods.

While you might be enticed by the small living space display models in Ikea stores you’ll find in  the Sweden-based firm’s stores Emeryville, West Sacramento, or East Palo Alto that start at 391 square feet, what may get the attention of a homeowner looking for extra income can be found in state rules now being incorporated into the City of Manteca’s municipal code.

The Manteca Planning Commission last week recommended that the City Council adopt the ADU changes.

Impact fees — that can add tens of thousands of dollars to the cost of building a house — will not be collected in Manteca on auxiliary dwelling units 750 square feet or less in a bid to encourage more ADUs.  

That will help ADU projects pencil out.

And if the ADU is 500 square feet or less the builder is also exempted from paying school impact fees to further reduce development costs.

The ADU is allowed to have a maximum square footage of 850 square feet in a studio-style layout, a maximum of 1,000 square feet for a one bedroom dwelling or 1,200 square for a handicapped accessible home. They can not be higher than 16 feet.

No additional off-street parking will be required for an ADU. They also must have an independent exterior entrance.

There was a time when so-called “granny flats” — small secondary dwelling units accessed from paved alleys or behind existing homes — provided Manteca with a supply of affordable housing. They lost popularity as tract development took over and many cities made then virtually impossible to build.

The current state movement that requires allowing garages conversions done to code, ADUs being built whether they are free-standing or added to and existing house, and allowing the conversion of single family homes into multiple family residences are all aimed at squeezing the most out of existing developed areas to help address California’s chronic housing shortage.

ADUs must be allowed in all zoning districts where residential uses are permitted. Local discretion for location of ADUs may be based only on the adequacy of water and sewer services, traffic circulation, and public safety considerations.

The dwelling units may be rented separately from the primary residence but may not be sold or otherwise conveyed separately from the primary residence.


To contact Dennis Wyatt, email