Local Ordinances, Amendments, & Reports

Below local jurisdictions will find information about the local ordinances, amendments, and reports required to be submitted to the California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD). All reports, ordinances, and amendments identified below can be submitted using the local ordinance and report portal (coming soon!).

The reports, local ordinances, and amendments are required to be submitted to HCD pursuant to Government Code section 8698.4, and Health and Safety Code sections 17952, 17959, 13869.7, 19165, and 17974.5. For more information about the statutory filing requirements for local government, please reference Information Bulletin 2016-03 (PDF).

Government Code (GC) section 8698.4 was established by Assembly Bill (AB) 2553 (Chapter 147, Statutes of 2020). The Governor approved AB 2553 on September 25, 2020, as an urgency statute. Upon approval, the provisions of AB 2553 became effective immediately and are scheduled to sunset on January 1, 2026, unless amended by statute. 

AB 2553 amended GC section 8698.4 addressing emergency housing and the adoption of local emergency housing ordinances. GC section 8698.4 allows any city, county, or city and county to adopt by ordinance reasonable local standards and procedures for emergency housing upon declaration of a shelter crisis. GC section 8698.4 also requires that any adopted ordinances be filed with HCD. 

Emergency housing ordinances filed with HCD are required to meet minimum building standards as specified in appendices located in the California Building Code (CBC) or the California Residential Code (CRC). If the ordinance does not meet the minimum standards in the appendices, findings must be made by the city, county, or city and county to explain why the minimum standards in the appendices cannot be met, but the ordinance will still protect health and safety.

California Code of Regulations, title 25, chapter 1, subchapter 1, article 8 (commencing with section 74) codifies definitions for limited-density rural dwellings and owner-built structures. A limited-density rural dwelling is defined as “any structure consisting of one or more habitable rooms intended or designed to be occupied by one family with facilities for living and sleeping, with use restricted to rural areas that fulfill the requirements of this article.” Owner-built is defined as “constructed by any person or family who acts as the general contractor for, or the provider of, part or all of the labor necessary to build housing to be occupied as the principal residence of that person or family, and not intended for sale, lease, rent or employee occupancy.” 

Health and Safety Code section 17958.2 establishes that regulations adopted by HCD for limited-density owner-built rural dwellings shall not become operative within any city or county unless and until the governing body of the city or county makes an express finding that the application of those regulations within the city or county is reasonably necessary because of local conditions and the city or county files a copy of that finding with HCD. 

In adopting ordinances or regulations for limited-density owner-built rural dwellings, a city or county may make any changes or modifications to the requirements found in California Code of Regulations, title 25, chapter 1, subchapter 1, article 8 (commencing with section 74) that it determines are reasonably necessary because of local conditions, if the city or county files a copy of the changes or modifications and the express findings for the changes or modifications with HCD. Note: no change or modification of that type shall become effective or operative for any purpose until the finding and the change or modification has been filed with HCD.

Health and Safety Code (HSC) section 17959 establishes that a city, county, or city and county may, by ordinance, make changes or modifications in addition to or in excess of the requirements contained in the California Building Standards Code adopted pursuant to HSC sections 17922 and 18928. Cities, counties, and cities and counties may adopt regulations for Universal Design based on guidelines and the Model Universal Design Ordinance developed by HCD which is available for local adoption. The Universal Design guidelines, when adopted, are intended to enhance the full life cycle use of housing and to accommodate a wide range of individual preferences and functional abilities. HCD has also developed a Universal Design Checklist which outlines features that may provide additional safety or mobility assistance to persons with mobility impairments or disabilities. In no case shall the changes or modifications be less restrictive than the requirements published in the California Building Standards Code. 

When a city or county adopts a local ordinance that is more restrictive than the building standards contained in the California Building Standards Code, prior to making changes, there are specific requirements that must be followed before a local ordinance containing Universal Design building standards may be enforced:

  • The city, county, or city and county shall make an express finding that such modifications or changes are reasonably necessary.
  • File a copy of the ordinance and the findings with HCD.
  • HCD may review the findings and each ordinance to evaluate their consistency with HSC section 17959(b)(2), and shall provide written comments to the adopting entity as to any such evaluation.

Assembly Bill 2787 (Chapter 726, Statutes of 2002) required HCD to develop guidelines and at least one Universal Design Model Ordinance (PDF) applicable to new construction and home modifications for voluntary adoption by local governments. 

HCD’s 2007 New Home Universal Design Option Checklist (PDF) identifies rooms and denotes features which must be offered by a builder in residential units subject to the ordinance that are being newly constructed or substantially rehabilitated. These features would only be installed if requested by the buyer/owner and would not cause an unreasonable delay or significant unreimbursable costs to the developer or builder.

In general, the model ordinance provides:

  • Definitions for critical terms
  • Local option as to types of units (owner-occupied and/or rental), and number of units
  • Specific exemptions and enforcement mechanisms

Examples of rooms and areas in covered units for which it is mandatory to offer certain design features

General Room
  • Accessible path of travel to dwelling
  • 32-inch wide interior doors
  • Handrail and handrail reinforcement in hallways
  • Entry door high / low peep hole viewer
  • Doorbell at 48 inches maximum height in accessible location (36 inches)
  • Switches and outlets at 15 inches to 48 inches above the floor
  • Rocker light switches
  • Closet rods and shelves adjustable from 3 feet to 5 feet 6 inches high
  • Up to 42-inch wide hallway
Bathrooms / Powder Room
  • At least one bathroom or powder room on the primary entry level
  • Grab bars and grab bar backing in walls
  • 30 inches x 48 inches clear space at fixtures
  • Lavatory with lever faucet controls
  • Removable base cabinets or open lavatory with knee space and protection panel
  • Clear space for a 48-inch to 60-inch diameter circle
  • Accessible bathtub or roll-in shower
  • Hand-held adjustable shower head
Kitchen on the Primary Entry Level
  • Accessible route to the kitchen
  • 30 inches x 48 inches clear space at appliances
  • Removable base cabinets at sink
  • 30 inches x 48 inches clear space at sink
  • Lever controls at kitchen sink faucet
  • Switches and outlets at 15 inches to 48 inches above the floor
  • 18-inch counter or breadboard for clear work area

New Home Universal Design Checklist (AB 1400)

Assembly Bill 1400 (Chapter 648, Statutes of 2003) required HCD to develop guidelines and adopt a New Home Universal Design Option checklist. HCD developed a user-friendly checklist in 2007. View the 2007 New Home Universal Design Option Checklist (PDF).

The statute specifically requires the checklist:

  • Cover single-family dwellings, duplexes, triplexes, townhouses, condominiums, or other dwellings.
  • Include specified standards and features, and any other requested by the buyer at a reasonable time, if reasonably available and feasible to install or construct.
  • Allow the developer and buyer be permitted to agree in writing to different standards if they are clearly disclosed.
  • Indicate each feature on the list as "standard," "limited," "optional," or "not available."
  • Include at what point in the construction process the buyer must notify the developer that the buyer wishes to purchase the features.
  • State the developer is not required to provide any feature on the list.
  • State that HCD can develop, certify, and make available a standard form providing the checklist information, and that a developer’s use of a form substantially the same as that developed and distributed by HCD is deemed to comply with the law.

The introductory section of the checklist provides information as to the house being purchased and clarifies, in plain English, the statutory requirements, and how the form works.

The 2007 New Home Universal Design Option Checklist (PDF) is a standard available to those who want to use it. Its use is deemed compliant with the statute. Any builder, however, may develop its own form as long as it complies with the requirements of the statute.

Universal Design Resources

Health and Safety Code section 13869.7 establishes that fire protection districts may adopt building standards relating to fire and panic safety that are more stringent than those building standards adopted by the State Fire Marshal and contained in the California Building Standards Code. 

The fire protection district shall transmit the adopted ordinance to the city, county, or city and county where the ordinance will apply. The legislative body of the city, county, or city and county, may ratify, modify, or deny an adopted ordinance and transmit its determination to the district within 15 days of the determination. Any modification or denial of an adopted ordinance shall include a written statement describing the reasons for any modifications or denial. No ordinance adopted by the district shall be effective until ratification by the city, county, or city and county where the ordinance will apply.

Upon ratification of an adopted ordinance, the city, county, or city and county, shall file a copy of any findings with the adopted ordinance expressly marked and identified to which each finding refers with HCD.

Health and Safety Code section 19165 requires any city, city and county, or county adopting an ordinance establishing building seismic retrofit standards for seismically hazardous buildings to file a copy of those standards and all subsequent amendments with HCD for informational purposes.

Assembly Bill (AB) 362 (Chapter 395, Statutes of 2021) amended the Health and Safety Code to require California cities and counties to investigate complaints of substandard housing claims in homeless shelters made by an occupant or agent of an occupant to determine if the complaint is valid. Health and Safety Code (HSC) section 17974.5 mandates cities and counties submit a report of the complaints to HCD annually by April 1. The information required in the report includes

  • Any pending uncorrected violations determined by the city or county, pursuant to HSC section 17974.1.
  • Any determinations by the city or county that conditions exist or existed that make or made the homeless shelter dangerous, hazardous, imminently detrimental to life or health, or otherwise render the homeless shelter unfit for human habitation.
  • A list of any emergency orders issued pursuant to HSC section 17974.1(c)(3).
  • A list of any owners or operators who received 3 or more violations within any six-month period.
  • Any corrected violations from the prior year.

If a shelter is deemed unhabitable and does not correct the violations as outlined in law, they may be subject to penalties and a loss of state funding.

Once finalized, HCD will offer a Local Ordinance and Report Portal to allow for electronic submission of ordinances, amendments, and reports.