Numerous bills loosening the laws around building small units on existing property are making their way through California's state legislature. With the support of Governor Jerry Brown and L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti, these bills could help alleviate a housing shortage that by some estimates is annually 100,000 homes short of California's need.

New measures from Assemblyman Richard Bloom and Senator Bob Wieckowski would force cities to permit 'backyard homes' or separate dwellings known as granny flats, eliminate cities' ability to require additional parking spaces for such units, and limit fees for attaching the units to local water and sewer systems.

The package of bills tries to ease some of the burden. Bloom’s bill, for example, would also bar cities from mandating large uncovered pathways from secondary units to the public street — thus allowing a simple side yard to suffice for access.

That change could have a big impact on Los Angeles, where a requirement for a 10-foot wide passageway clear to the sky has made secondary units impractical for many Angelenos, including Ventura, said Mark Vallianatos, an urban planning expert and co-founder of the advocacy group Abundant Housing L.A.

“It could help unlock a lot more properties,” he said.

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