Two new laws are coming in 2020, which provide protection for HOA owners in regard to accessory dwelling units and religious decorations on doorways.

One of the most basic elements of residential CC&Rs is the requirement that residences are limited to “single-family” use. However, at least in California planned developments, that requirement is partially overridden through Assembly Bill 670.

That bill, recently approved by the governor, creates a new Civil Code 4751 taking effect on Jan. 1, 2020. Under this law, a planned development lot owner can add a second smaller residence attached to the primary residence, so long as applicable building and zoning codes are satisfied.

Accessory dwelling units have been increasing in priority with the state Legislature in recent years. In 2016 SB 1069 passed, creating a requirement that local building departments allow construction of ADU’s that meet minimal standards (Government Code Section 65852.2(e)). This year AB 670 passed, adding a new Civil Code Section 4751 to the Davis-Stirling Act. Starting in 2020, planned developments may not have an outright prohibition against ADUs, but may impose “reasonable” restrictions so long as they do not unreasonably increase the cost or effectively make ADU’s impossible.

The law only applies to planned developments and does not apply to condominiums, stock cooperatives, or community apartments. Homeowners should check their CC&Rs before seeking an ADU on their property. Some detached home communities actually are not planned developments but are condominiums. Even if the condominium has a “yard,” it is not covered by this law. Planned developments often involve “townhouse” construction, in which homes are attached side by side but still are wholly owned by each owner. Adding an ADU to that kind of planned development lot may not be possible.

The statute allows reasonable restrictions by the HOA, and notes that a reasonable restriction is one which is consistent with Government Code 65852.2. This statute, in effect, allows the HOA to require the owner of the main residence occupy the residence (as opposed to having a tenant in both residences), that only one ADU may be built per lot, that the ADU cannot be separately sold apart from the lot, and that the ADU cannot be larger than 50% of the size of the primary residence or 1,200 square feet in size.

Government Code 65852.22 provides for “junior ADUs,” which are created by converting existing space, including at least one bedroom, to a separate residence, not exceeding 500 square feet in size. The HOA also may require that the junior ADU have an “efficiency” kitchen and a separate entrance. The HOA may not require additional parking for the junior ADU resident.

Prudent homeowners will consult the appropriate construction design professional and their association before starting an ADU.

Senate Bill 652 creates protection for religious displays on entry doors and door frames by adding new Civil Code Sections 1940.45 and 4706. So long as religious decorations do not hinder the operation of the door and do not exceed a total of 36 by 12 square inches (i.e., 432 square inches), an association cannot restrict a resident from such displays. The resident may be required to remove the display to accommodate repair or maintenance work on the door or door frame.


Kelly G. Richardson Esq., CCAL, is a Fellow of the College of Community Association Lawyers and a Partner of Richardson | Ober | DeNichilo LLP, a California law firm known for community association advice. Submit questions to Past columns at All rights reserved®.


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