Catherine Darragh

Planning Commission Unanimously Approves "Granny Flats" But Are "Granny Flats" Just Code For Condos and Mini-Dorms

Congratulations to the Planning Commission in its effort to change the Companion Unit regulations. Eliminating the "double lot size" ; allowing concurrent building of both units (cost-effective); the parking and owner occupancy requirements are all realistic, sensible and protective recommendations to make the rules workable. There has been a draft of these changes sitting dormant since 2007 waiting for a Council President to put it on the Council's Agenda. Let's hope Council President Tony Young will move on this issue very soon. There is a new mix on the Council smart enough to realize that mini-dorms and granny flats are not comparable, that the city won't be flooded with "granny flat" permits and ruin residential neighborhoods, that these units count toward the state-required affordable units quota, and that re-assessments on these building additions can add to the city's shrinking coffers. Speaking of state-required quotas, think of all the thousands of illegal "granny flats" which could actually be counted to give a more realistic picture of San Diego's housing affordability quotient. The information on the website, San Diego Issues, is outdated. It is interesting to note that many cities have progressed in their thinking since then and have promoted ADU's as a way to solve housing issues for a depressing economy and changing demography. Portland has gone so far as to eliminate fees for three years on ADU's. Seattle experimented by allowing ADU's in certain communities and has now expanded its reach because of acceptance by its voters. Santa Cruz is nationally recognized for its ADU program. If regulations are required, then at least make them ones that are workable.
— May 28, 2011 11:59 a.m.

South Park's Granny Flats — City Says Yea, Some Citizens Say Nay

Granny Flats, companion units (accessory dwelling units) are a housing solution for one small segment of San Diego’s population. San Diego passed a 2003 ordinance that was poorly written but cleverly and purposely deceptive. It was passed to prevent the state law from taking effect in San Diego. San Diego was forced to create its own rules or accept the newly-passed state law (Bill AB 1866) which made companion units ministerial rather than discretionary. The state, in an attempt to answer housing needs and offer some affordable solutions, obviated the need for time-consuming, costly hearings on proposals that are in compliance with local zoning and development standards. Richard Murphy, San Diego Mayor at the time, and his Council opted to create their own rules for San Diego. City planners and representatives from community planning groups had been working for months on companion unit regulations that settled on a 5000 sq. ft. minimum lot size. When the Council met, the discussion centered around the fear of turning residential neighborhoods into multi-family zones with over-crowding and parking problems. The Mayor suggested increasing the lot size to two times the lot size for the area. It was an obvious solution for eliminating any future granny flats from being built since the average lot size in San Diego averages 5000-7500 sq. ft. Concurrent building of two units, an effective cost-savings, was also prohibited. Development Services are proposing amendments which have to go before Council. A draft written in 2007 was never brought to Council. Council Presidents control what is on the Agenda, so nothing will change the Companion Unit regulations until the issue is before Council, discussed and passed. The new amendments will allow ADU’s to be built with reasonable restrictions to allay community concerns. With the current economic climate and changing demographics, it is one viable solution for families struggling to make ends meet, young adults jobless and needing shelter, multi-family generations choosing to live together and seniors wanting to remain in their own homes. We may get a different mix on the Council this go-around who are willing to make decisions in a responsible and timely manner. I can hope! …tradinlady
— November 1, 2010 3:16 p.m.

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