Granny Flat Compliance in Other California Cities
How are they responding?
Santa Cruz, Calif., is offering incentives to homeowners who build second units and charge rents that a person making 80% of the median monthly income in the town could afford. That means rent of about $1,200 a month for a two-person household. For homeowners building such units, permit fees of up to $6,000 are waived. The city, which has some of California's highest housing prices, posts seven architectural blueprints for granny flats on its Web site. Permits tripled from 10 in 2002 to 30 in 2003.
Sandi Monda, 58, of Torrance, Calif., says "granny flat" is a misnomer. Supporters of the practice, she says, "use it to get sympathy. The homes we're living in are selling for anywhere between $500,000 to $700,000. If a homeowner chooses to put a granny flat on their property, I can assure you it's not going to be affordable."
San Jose, Calif., Councilman Chuck Reed sees great benefits. More units generate more property tax revenue because of higher assessments on homes with apartments. Such units also save local governments the $100,000 average cost of building one affordable housing unit. "If we can build a thousand of those things, that would save us $100 million in government subsidies," Reed says.
Support for granny flats is not universal. The League of California Cities objects to the State's intrusion into local land-use decisions, according to Jessica Mullan, policy analyst for the group. "You have a neighborhood that's zoned for single-family homes, and you're basically changing the character of that community without any input from the community."
Karen Klinger, a real estate broker in Arden Park, Calif, near Sacramento fears the neighborhood will be destroyed and states, "There should be some restrictions so that our neighborhoods don't turn into multifamily neighborhoods."
Chula Vista OKs ordinance change for `granny flats': the planning director can waive the parking garage requirement for some homes. The director will decide on a case-by-case basis. The maximum size of a secondary home is allowed a maximum of 850 square feet. increasing the A secondary home, which can be attached or detached, must have a gross floor area less than the primary residence and have on-site parking. Councilwoman Mary Salas said she doesn't think there will be a proliferation of secondary homes. "I have a certain comfort level in knowing that there are probably not that many lots out there that could have granny flats," she said.
Amy Oakes. The San Diego Union - Tribune. San Diego, Calif.: Mar 25, 2004. pg. B.3 Full Text (445 words) Copyright SAN DIEGO UNION TRIBUNE PUBLISHING COMPANY Mar 25, 2004
Encinitas and Carlsbad have encouraged developers to build second units in new-home developments to meet affordable housing requirements. "We think one of the reasons we have this huge housing crisis is that after we have lots of public hearings when land is zoned and development standards are set, we come back with housing projects consistent with the zoning, but we have yet another hearing and the NIMBYs (not-in-my-back-yard advocates) come out and say we don't like it," said state housing advocate Marc Brown, who helped write the new state legislation. "We've got this double-barreled set of hearings, and it would be a lot easier if we just have the battles over the zoning and not refight these battles."
In Carlsbad, the city's affordable housing, or inclusionary, ordinance as it is known, required no proof from homeowners that their second units were being rented out at affordable levels. But that all changed two years ago when regulations were amended to require income certification of renters of the granny flats. Not surprisingly, no developer has built the second units since then, said Debbie Fountain, housing and redevelopment director. Over the last five years, nearly 200 second units have been built in Carlsbad, the great majority of which were done in new subdivisions, according to Fountain. "Prior to 2000, it was seen as an asset and developers were having good luck selling them," she added. "Now I think we'll see very few. We've always had the philosophy we shouldn't put too many restrictions on them because they're naturally affordable because they're under 640 square feet. "By tightening the restrictions, we made it clear they weren't the favored child anymore." / Union-Tribune
In Escondido the City Council adopted new requirements that would make it much harder for homeowners to build second units on their property. The new regulations were born out of concerns from neighbors that second dwellings would promote increased density and hence more traffic and parking problems. Escondido Councilwoman June Rady stated, "We tightened our ordinance so it's intended to house a parent or grandmother who needs assistance. That's why they're called granny flats. What was happening was people were building these second units and renting them for income. We as individual jurisdictions need to control our own land use destinies. I object to the state overriding our decisions."
For a growing number of people, the all-American ideal of a family home — a house with a yard and a garage — now involves sharing it with a stranger. Like many communities around the country, San Francisco largely prohibits building a separate apartment — commonly known as a granny flat — on the lot of a single-family home.
Some 65,000 to 300,000 granny flats are springing up in cities and suburbs every year, with or without local sanction, according to a study sponsored by AARP. Staying in the Family Home May Mean Taking Others In. New York Times, October 12, 2003
Some cities and counties are using this opportunity to loosen size and parking requirements for granny flats, while others are seizing the chance to expand the number of residential zones open to granny flats. Pismo Beach is even granting amnesty to home owners whose units were built illegally during the city's 19-year ban.
San Luis Obispo Tribune (07/01/03) Finucane, Stephanie: www.sanluisobispo.com
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