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An example of DZN Partners’ ready-to-use design plans for constructing a stand-alone additional dwelling unit on a homeowner’s property. Architectural rendering by DZN Partners
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Vista council addresses accessory dwelling units

VISTA — Accessory dwelling units are quickly becoming a way for cities to meet their housing stock.

Recent legislation passed by the state, thanks to the city of Encinitas, has made it easier for residents to build ADUs, or granny flats. Cities are also parlaying the new law to add ADUs under their affordable housing requirements.

In Vista, the City Council addressed ADUs and associated fees during its April 9 meeting. The council directed staff to return with a more detailed report on impact fees and square footage, to name a few.

“The ADU cannot exceed the size of a primary residence,” Conley said.

The units are allowed on lots with developed single-family homes and cannot be sold separately. Currently in Vista, ADUs can be up to 1,000 square feet, although the size depends on the size of the property and zoning designations, Conley said.

Constructing an ADU will cost $18,464.42 in city fees, which includes about $14,000 in impact fees, and does not include building costs. Several residents spoke about the high fees, which are in addition to other state-mandated costs such as soil tests and storm water and grading plans.

The state does not require development impact fees for ADUs.

Resident Michael Upton said he and his wife are building an ADU, but just to get started it cost about $37,000 to acquire the plans plus impact fees.

The council was mostly in favor of waiving impact fees for affordable units. But, they were split on whether to reduce those fees on market-rate units by 50%.

Mayor Julie Ritter and Councilwoman Amanda Rigby did not favor the cut to market rate fees, saying those who move in will also be using city services such as roads, emergency services, parks and other amenities.

“I’m not a fan of that,” Rigby said. “No matter who is living there, they are still impacting the city. I think the fees need to be paid up so it can go back to helping the community.”

“I think for market-rate … I don’t think we should waive those,” Ritter added.

The council, though, directed staff to research allowing units to be up to 1,200 square feet, depending on the size of the lot. According to city code, 60% of the lot must remain open, which means living spaces can only cover 40% of the land.

Additionally, the council also went back and forth between allowing homes in the R-1-B zoning designation to include ADUs. Those lots are up to 6,000 square feet.

Ritter and Rigby said they are too small and dense, and allowing an ADU may negatively impact those neighborhoods, which were not designed to add more residences.

Councilman Joe Green, though, said he was in favor for the R-1-B units as it allows those residents the same opportunity as others. In addition, he also favored a 50% reduction in market-rate fees and no fees for affordable units.


John Arendsen April 18, 2019 at 2:17 pm

Let’s try to keep politics and negative slurs out of this very creative and important dialogue. There’s enough of that out there already.

Total transparency: I’m a general and manufactured home contractor, manufactured home dealer and developer and a real estate broker, property management and investment company. The name of my company is CREST ‘BACKYARD’ HOMES. We specialize in ACCESSORY DWELLING UNITS (ADU). I’ve been a Vista resident and property/homeowner (unincorporated) for almost 40 years. My kids went to school with the (joe) Green kids. Albeit I’m not a Vista voter I must agree with a young man who’s been a very active and caring lifetime resident and citizen of the entire North County Community and genuinely cares about its present and future. He is absolutely spot on in his assessment.

All residents that technically qualify according to Senate Bill 1069, 1226, AB 2299 and several forthcoming bills being voted on later this year have the right to build a BACKYARD HOME on their property as long as it meets the aforementioned STATE LAWS.

Vista and several other San Diego Jurisdictions are coming to terms with the MINIMUM standards and will/must embrace them sooner rather than later. They can write, amend and even enhance their ordinance but it must meet the State Mandate minimum requirements.

As dual resident of Vista and Leucadia/Encinitas I have to say that the City of Encinitas has their act together better than any other jurisdiction in the State. Anyone interested in adding an ADU to their property would be wise to study these new laws and check out the City of ENCINITAS PRADU (FREE pre approved drawings). Add to that no permit or grading fees, no school fees on any BACKYARD HOME under 500sf and many more cost and time savings and incentives.

Remember our government works for us; Not the other way around. And the City of Encinitas is the shining star right now. Others would be wise to follow their example or better yet make yours even better. But do follow the minimum standards of the State Mandate.

For those folks who would like more info about adding a BACKYARD HOME to your property please sign up for the June 11th ADU Forum and Panel discussion by clicking on the link below.

State Senator Bob Wieckowski, architect of Senate Bill 1069, will be discussing the current laws as well as those forthcoming. Our keynote speaker, Greg Nickless, Senior Housing Analyst for the California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD). is our keynote speaker. Mr. Nickless assists local jurisdictions in creating a suitable ordinance and fields issues with property/homeowners wanting to add an ADU to their property.

Encinitas Mayor, Catherine Blakespear, and Associate City of Encinitas planner, Geoff Plageman, will be two of our distinguished panelists They will share their very aggressive progressive and proactive PRADU Program:

If you wold like more information about CREST BACKYARD HOMES please feel free to log onto our website.

Ray Carney April 12, 2019 at 12:49 pm

Filled by illegal aliens. Remember this is Vista.

Joul April 12, 2019 at 2:31 pm

I am a legal alien and pay way more taxes that you do, my job brings in millions of dollars to the US and my education did cost nothing to the US. You must be a white loser, who, by his color, thinks deserves better. That why people like you hate immigration, because you hate competitors, you loser

Mike Mitchell June 18, 2019 at 7:45 pm

Joul, Ray said “illegal alien.” But I understand you may have trouble with English, that’s okay, we still love you.

Randy D. April 14, 2019 at 7:54 am

That was helpful Ray….

Charlie April 12, 2019 at 7:30 am

Somewhat crazy in that we’re desperate for new housing and when a simple fix (ADU’s) comes along we want to burden the opportunity with impact fees. Say I have a 4 bedroom house, my kids are grown up and gone and I build an ADU in my yard. There’s no additional impact to streets, electrical, water or sewer than when I had a house full of kids.

Since, as it would seem, that impact fees are just another way to generate income perhaps they should be variable based on unit size, particularly # of bedrooms. A one bedroom ADU (apartment) typically won’t bring kids to be added to the school system (a real cost) and it certainly won’t use a lot of other services. Have the fee increase as the # of bedrooms, service users creating an impact, goes up.

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