Granny flat
Example of a “granny flat.” Photo via

The city of San Diego teamed with the San Diego Housing Federation, the Local Initiatives Support Corporation and the Pacific Southwest Association or Realtors to write the “Companion Unit Handbook,” a helpful guide to help homeowners better navigate the process of constructing a companion unit on their property.

Companion units, otherwise known as Accessory Dwelling Units and granny flats are an important tool in fixing San Diego’s housing crisis. These units are uniquely useful in increasing housing in low density residential units.

In a region where average rent is nearly $1,800 a month and the median price of a house is over $500,000, renters are actively seeking alternative options for affordable rent. In addition, homeowners are seeking alternative options to offset the cost of a home mortgage. Companion units provide an immediate solution to the region’s housing supply crisis.

The design and construction of a companion unit is a step by step process. Success often depends on preparation and a solid understanding of the process. When considering building or adding a companion unit on a property, the Companion Unit Handbook will help homeowners understand:

  • A property’s zoning and issues such as setbacks and parking
  • Companion unit design and construction
  • Permitting requirements
  • Funding
  • Supporting documents and resources.

“Companion Units provide a great housing option for many San Diego families,” said Councilmember Sherman. “Unfortunately, in the past, the process for permitting approval was cumbersome and difficult. Thanks to the help of the SD Housing Federation, LISC, and PSAR, San Diegans now have a pathway to completion.”

“Unfortunately, limited housing supply paired with limited construction of affordable for-sale housing units has put a severe strain on lower and middle class families. The ‘missing-middle’ forces families seeking the American Dream to make tough decisions to live on tight budgets or move out of the region. Making it easier to build companion units, will help create options for more affordable homeownership as well as increase the supply of affordable housing units in our region, said  Rafael Perez, Realtor, Pacific Southwest Association of Realtors.

“The region’s housing crisis is a serious issue that hurts San Diego’s disadvantaged the most. Companion Units will give residents in disinvested neighborhoods more options to improve housing affordability and better options to offset the cost of a mortgage,” said Ricardo Flores, executive director, LISC.

“Companion units are an important tool that will create naturally occurring affordable housing units that are desperately needed in San Diego. The San Diego Housing Federation is proud to have helped compile this important document to help homeowners through the navigation process,” said Stephen Russell, executive  director, San Diego Housing Federation.

To review the Companion Unit guide, please click here.