CARLSBAD — The city finalized its policy regarding accessory dwelling units to reflect changes in state law.
The changes to the city’s municipal code align with six new state laws aiming to spur construction of ADUs, or “granny flats,” and create more affordable housing options for residents.
Don Neu, Carlsbad city planner, said ADUs are secondary residential units on an existing property and the city’s recent approval is keeping in line with the new state laws.
The latest California laws (AB 68, AB 881, SB 13, AB 587, AB 670 and AB 671) allow for ADUs on any lot with single-family or multi-family dwellings to include junior ADUs — units within the walls of a single-family home with a maximum size of 500-square feet — along with ADUs, which are detached units up to 1,200-square feet.
Other changes include setbacks, heights, lot coverage allowing for 800-square-foot units and prohibiting ADUs being used as short-term rentals, Neu said. Also, homeowner’s associations must allow both types of ADUs and state-mandated Housing Elements must include incentives for ADUs, Neu said.
“The processing time to act on a permit request for an accessory unit has been reduced from 120 days to 60 days,” Neu said.
The council also approved the attached ADUs to be 50% of the main dwelling or a maximum of 1,200-square feet, whichever is less. For detached units, 1,200-square feet is the maximum, which is in line with state law, Neu said.
These new guidelines also regulate height limits, which are 16 feet for both detached and attached units, and the city will default to the height allowed by the current zoning. As for landscaping, city ADUs must apply the same requirements as applied to the development of the property, while the architecture must be consistent with the main dwelling.
As of Nov. 2019, Neu said there were 425 ADUs in the city with rent running between $1,416 for a studio and $1,618 per month for a one-bedroom unit. Of those, 425, 184 are deed-restricted for lower-income residents and the rest are counted as affordable to moderate-income households.
“These were accessory units that were constructed to satisfy the inclusionary ordinance,” he said.
According to the staff report, the new state law also includes a requirement for the California Department of Housing and Community Development to review the city’s accessory dwelling unit ordinance for compliance.
The city will be given 30 days to respond and indicate if it will either change the ordinance to comply with the state housing department’s findings or adopt it as-is. If no response is made within 30 days, the state may notify the attorney general the city is in violation of state law.