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Carlsbad has updated its municipal code to align with six new California laws aimed at providing more affordable housing options for residents. Photo courtesy of Cross Construction Inc.
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Carlsbad updates municipal code to align with state’s new ‘granny flat’ laws

CARLSBAD — The city finalized its policy regarding accessory dwelling units to reflect changes in state law.

During its Sept. 1 meeting, the City Council approved amendments to the zoning and municipal codes, in addition to the Village and Barrio Master Plan and Local Coastal Program.

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.


Scoutingranch September 15, 2020 at 6:49 am

People, be careful. These are bad ideas gone wrong. Next? High rise ghettos apartment buildings in your area.

Scoutingranch September 14, 2020 at 1:55 pm

Who thinks this stuff up??? The America hating left, that’s who. Everything the left does, it destroys. The State of California couldn’t care less what town or city they ruin.

Steveinsandiego September 11, 2020 at 10:48 am

Now that i think about it, if the rent is regulated to something less than fair market, then the city is prohibiting the owner-builder from obtaining a fair return on his efforts. Lots wrong with this scheme, and ‘lots’ is not intended as a pun 😉

Steveinsandiego September 11, 2020 at 10:42 am

Hmm, sounds like every sfd lot is now a multiple unit lot. That’ll increase land prices bigtime for sure. Not only that, providing satisfactory parking will further crowd the lots and streets. Sounds like a great way to create slums. Who thinks up this stuff?
Why doesnt the city build more studio and 1- bedrm apts? Ever watch 1940s movies about life in new york city? Slovenly mid to highrise tenements. Is that goobermint’s aim? Sigh, and MORE sigh……

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