San Mateo County is offering an amnesty program for existing second units (aka granny units, in-law units, accessory dwelling units) constructed without some or all necessary permits and approvals.

This program will run for a limited term, and offers owners of unpermitted units the opportunity to bring their unit into compliance with basic health and life safety standards without the risk of code enforcement action, and with significant fee reductions and assistance in determining necessary improvements.

The amnesty program is in an initial pilot phase, and is not yet open to the general public. To inquire about the availability of the program, please contact:

William Gibson, Planner III
wgibson@smcgov.org

Benefits of the Program

  • Low-cost initial inspection of the unpermitted unit
  • Detailed guidance on required improvements
  • Waiver of all fees and penalties for unpermitted construction
  • Significant reduction or waiver of planning, building, and other permit fees
  • Alternative, more easily achievable compliance standards
  • Assurance that the second unit is habitable and does not present risks to inhabitants
  • Suspension of code enforcement action for any issues identified and improvements made through the amnesty program
  • The opportunity to explore the program, prior to formal application, without risk of any penalty or enforcement
  • A certification record, which will be supplied to the applicant and kept on file at the County, memorializing the improvements and assuring that there will be no subsequent code enforcement related to those improvements

Learn More

Limited Window of Opportunity

The amnesty program will only run for a limited time, between one and three years, beginning in October/November 2018. To take advantage of this opportunity, applicants must apply within that period, although after application, completion of improvements to the unit may extend beyond the formal amnesty period.

Rehabilitation Loan Program

For some eligible applicants, there may be rehabilitation loans available through the County’s Housing Department. Not every applicant will qualify for these loans, but for eligible applicants, they can help support the cost of unit repairs and improvements. For more information see the County's Second Unit Amnesty Loan Program.

For more information, see the Second Unit Amnesty and Loan Program FAQ »

Other Second Unit Amnesty Materials

Other Second Unit Materials

Second Unit Calculator

While the County cannot provide detailed guidance on the potential costs of work and materials, there is a Second Unit Calculator that provides general information on the cost of constructing a new unit in San Mateo County, which may help you form rough estimates of the possible range of costs before approaching a contractor.