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7-0-21 Accessory Dwelling Unit – Enforcement Extension Request


  1. The purpose of this document is to provide guidelines for requests to delay enforcement of a building standards violation for an Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) for up to five years, pursuant to California Health and Safety Code § 17980.12 and Government Code § 65852.2.  This policy is necessary to ensure the safety and habitability of an ADU during the enforcement extension period.
  2. This Policy is intended to allow continued occupancy of an unpermitted ADU and SHALL NOT waive the requirements for permits, penalties, or fees that may be required to legalize the structure at a future date.
  3. To be eligible for an enforcement extension, the ADU must have been created prior to January 1, 2020.  Pursuant to Health and Safety Code § 17980.12, ADUs built after January 1, 2020 are eligible only in a local jurisdiction that, at the time the ADU was built, had a noncompliant accessory dwelling unit ordinance, but the ordinance is compliant at the time the request was made.


  1. Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU): An attached or a detached residential dwelling unit that provides complete independent living facilities for one or more persons and is located on a lot with a proposed or existing primary residence. It shall include permanent provisions for living, sleeping, eating, cooking, and sanitation on the same parcel as the single-family or multifamily dwelling is or will be situated.  The new ADU shall not be occupied prior to approved occupancy of the primary dwelling.
  2. Substandard: Any housing condition as defined in Health and Safety Code 17920.3 which exists to an extent that it endangers the life, limb, property, safety or welfare of the public or occupants.


  1. Government Code, §§ 65852.2, 65852.22
  2. Health and Safety Code § 17980.12


  1. Substandard ADU:
    1. A violation notice issued for substandard housing premises, or other nuisance conditions within an ADU or on the premises shall not be subject to a delay in enforcement and shall be immediately abated. A building permit may be required to address substandard conditions.
  2. Unpermitted ADU:
    1. A violation notice issued for an ADU shall include in that notice a statement that the owner of the property has a right to request a delay in enforcement. (ATTACHMENT A).
    2. A property owner who receives a violation notice for an unpermitted ADU may request a one-time delay in enforcement of up to five (5) years. To qualify for this extension, within thirty (30) days of receiving a violation notice, the property owner shall submit:
      1. A habitability inspection (ATTACHMENT B) conducted by a person licensed by the California Contractors State License Board or having another current and appropriate professional license. This inspection shall contain, at minimum, a review of the structure for compliance with minimum housing standards pursuant to Health and Safety Code Section 17920.3.
      2. A zoning survey (ATTACHMENT B). This information will be reviewed and may include: appropriate base zoning, setbacks from property lines, septic systems, waterways, and the specific requirements for construction in the various zoning districts.
      3. A fee will be charged for document review using the currently adopted Code Enforcement Inspector hourly rate.
    3. Upon review and approval of these submittals and if it is determined that correcting the violation(s) is not necessary to protect health and safety, the Permit Sonoma Code Enforcement Manager shall approve a one-time five (5) year enforcement extension for the abatement of the unpermitted ADU.
      1. A notice of violations and delay of enforcement shall be recorded by Permit Sonoma in the Sonoma County Recorder’s Office. The notice shall state the date the enforcement extension was granted and its expiration date. No further abatement actions will be taken on the identified violations during the enforcement extension period. This recorded document may be rescinded or modified by mutual agreement of Permit Sonoma and the property owner(s) if necessary for the sale or refinance of the property.
    4. If the extension request is not approved, the ADU shall be subject to violation abatement pursuant to Sonoma County Code Chapter 1 Section 1-7.3.
  3. No delays in enforcement shall be approved on or after January 1, 2030. However, any delay that was approved before January 1, 2030, shall be valid for the full term of the delay that was approved at the time of the initial approval of the extension.

Approved By

Approved By: Tennis Wick, Director

Reviewed By Department Manager:  Tyra Harrington, Code Enforcement Manager

Reviewed By County Counsel:  Christa Shaw, Deputy County Counsel IV

Lead Author:  Mark Franceschi, Code Enforcement Supervisor