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Vista City Council passes ADU ordinance

VISTA — The city is slowly moving forward with its regulations regarding accessory dwelling units.

Also known as granny flats, the council tabled its ADU ordinance to its Aug. 13 meeting. The City Council is in recess throughout July.

Councilman John Franklin pushed for a delay in the vote so he, and the council, could gather more information on the potential impacts of several issues, along with give residents in District 1 an opportunity to voice their concerns.

John Conley, Vista’s director of community development, said during the June 25 City Council meeting, the maximum size for an accessory dwelling unit is 50% of the size of the primary residence or 1,200 square feet, whichever is less.

The development impact fees run $14,700 per unit, however, the City Council directed staff during its April 9 meeting to research waiving impact fees for affordable units.

The city’s housing division recommended a10-year affordability covenant instead of five years to ensure stability for low-income residents. Even if a property with a ADU on the premises is sold within the 10-year restriction, the new owner would still have to abide by the regulation until the 10 years is up.

“The housing division’s intent is to preserve affordable housing for as long as we can,” Conley said. “That’s the purpose of the 10-year deed restriction.”

New state legislation, which was introduced by the city of Encinitas, made it easier for residents to build ADUs. The new units would also count toward Vista’s Regional Housing Needs Assessment (RHNA), which is determined by the county.

The R-1-B zones were also discussed and Conley said about 40% of the current lots would qualify for an ADU. However, Councilman John Franklin said he would like to revisit the R-1-B zones later due to their smaller lot sizes, parking concerns and upsetting residents.

Councilwoman Corinna Contreras said those residents should have the same opportunity as other zones, but did say parking was a concern.

“I understand the concern … I really think closing the R-1-B zone off from the ADUs for those property owners, then very few will probably come forward for a conversion,” she said.

Mayor Julie Ritter said her concerns centered on parking, especially in District 1 with the R-1-B zones, and the cost of rent, which is on the higher end of the AMI spectrum, and the process of qualifying by submitting personal finance records.

However, she said the garage units are cheaper for homeowners to renovate and add to the city’s housing stock.

Franklin also favored those conditions, including the 10-year restriction, but was worried about allowing garages to be converted, thus potentially reducing parking and increasing street parking where allowable. He said the council could review the garage units down the road in a manner of caution.

Councilwoman Amanda Rigby was not in favor of garage units and said she is opposed to ADUs on any level.

“At some point that goes back into the housing market and will be rented out at market rate,” she said. “You can see the unintended consequences. You can foresee what would happen in our community.”

Homeowners associations are currently not subject to the new state legislation allowing more ADUs, but Conley said current legislation in Sacramento is pending and would supersede an HOAs authority to not allow ADUs. The city, though, exempted HOAs from its ordinance.

Rents, meanwhile, range from $1,499 for one person earning less than $59,000 per year to $2,140 for a family of four, as long as those individuals meet the 80% of Maximum Annual Household Income threshold.