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Thread: Accessory apartments

  1. #1
    Cyburbian SlaveToTheGrind's avatar
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    Accessory apartments

    Believe it or not, I actually have a work related question. Our Council recently eliminated accessory apartments after giving everyone a three-month window to apply for or make legal any existing accessory apartment. The Council has been catching some flak from people who would still like to have one. The Council may be leaning toward opening the window up again (and people will still miss it) and allow more accessory apartments. Does anyone have any experience with the legislative body doing something similar? What were the results? Cheers.

  2. #2
    Member Wulf9's avatar
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    The State of California made them legal and imposed that decision on all cities. They are allowed by right.

  3. #3
    Forums Administrator & Gallery Moderator NHPlanner's avatar
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    We allow them with the following in our Zoning Ordinance:

    408 Accessory Apartments
    To increase housing alternatives while maintaining neighborhood aesthetics and quality, one accessory apartment within a detached single family dwelling shall be permitted provided the following conditions are met:
    A. Maximum of one (1) accessory apartment per lot.
    B. The property owner must occupy one of the two units.
    C. The exterior appearance and entrances of the dwelling shall be consistent with a single-family residence.
    D. Only one (1) bedroom is permitted in the accessory apartment and to qualify as an accessory apartment under this section, the apartment may not exceed 750 sq. ft. of floor space.
    E. Where municipal sewer is not provided, the total number of bedrooms shall not exceed the capacity of the septic system.
    F. Off-street parking shall be provided for at least four (4) vehicles. Garage and “piggy-back” parking is encouraged.
    G. The structure and lot shall not be converted to a condominium or any other form of legal ownership distinct from the ownership of the existing single-family dwelling. Accessory apartment use shall be recorded by Deed Addendum.
    H. Accessory apartments shall not be permitted in conjunction with variances from any requirements of this Section.
    I. Variances from this Section shall be contrary to the spirit and intent of this Ordinance.
    J. The accessory apartment shall be allowed only within an existing building which has been Certified for Occupancy for at least three (3) calendar years prior to date of application.
    "Growth is inevitable and desirable, but destruction of community character is not. The question is not whether your part of the world is going to change. The question is how." -- Edward T. McMahon, The Conservation Fund

  4. #4
    Cyburbian Richmond Jake's avatar
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    Originally posted by Wulf9
    The State of California made them legal and imposed that decision on all cities. They are allowed by right.
    And tell us how overjoyed that made the counties and cities feel !!!
    Annoyingly insensitive

  5. #5

    Registered
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    Solano County, California
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    Well, it did make housing advocates overjoyed.

    Not sure it should be mandated at the State level, but I am somewhat appalled that any city would abolish them outright.

    Here is the section from our ordinance.

    25.20.4.11 Second Dwelling Units

    A. Applicability. Second dwelling units and “granny flats” (also referred to as “second units”) are conditionally permitted on any lot where one single family detached dwelling is permitted or exists. Definitions for second units and granny flats are provided in Section 25.50. Second units shall not be counted as an additional dwelling for the purposes of calculating permitted General Plan or residential zoning density.

    B. Restrictions. All seconds unit shall comply with the following regulations:

    1. One second unit is allowed on a parcel 5,000 square feet or greater containing a detached single family dwelling. Any second unit proposed on a lot with a detached garage or any lot with alley access shall be exempt from this minimum lot size requirement.

    2. Second units are not allowed on lots with two or more dwellings, or on any lot with a guest house.

    3. The applicant for a Conditional Use Permit shall be both an owner and current resident of the property for which a second unit is proposed. An exception to the occupancy requirement is allowed where a second unit is to be constructed concurrent with the principal dwelling, and the owner will reside on the property upon completion of construction.

    4. A second unit may only be rented, leased, and/or occupied for residential purposes. Property containing a second unit shall not be subdivided from that on which the principal dwelling exists.

    5. Second units may be contained in an addition to the principal dwelling or in a detached building.

    6. Any illegal building additions or accessory structures shall be brought into compliance with the City Code prior to approval of the second unit.

    7. The placement of a second unit on any property shall comply with Section 25.20.4.1 (C).

    C. Unit size. No second unit (including granny flats) shall exceed 40 percent of the floor area of the principal dwelling or 1,200 square feet, whichever is less. The floor area of a second unit shall not be required to be less than 500 square feet.

    D. Parking.

    1. Number of spaces required. Exclusive of the parking required for the principal dwelling, the following parking shall be provided for a second unit:

    a. One space shall be required for an efficiency unit or one bedroom unit.

    b. Two spaces shall be required for a unit having two or more bedrooms. If two parking spaces are required for a second unit, they may be located in a tandem garage.

    2. Location. Parking spaces for the second unit shall be located where they will not interfere with or obstruct required parking for the principal dwelling unit. Parking shall not encroach into a front or street side yard except in a driveway apron (e.g.; between a garage door and the curb cut), and between a driveway apron and a side or rear property line (see Figure 25-2 below). When the parking area is located between the garage apron and side property line is 10 feet or wider, a fence/wall and/or landscaping shall be installed.



    1. The design shall be architecturally consistent with the principal dwelling including form, exterior siding, trim and color, roof materials, and window placement and type. It shall also be compatible with the height, mass, and general design of buildings in the immediate vicinity of the site;





    Figure 25-2: Allowed Second Unit Parking






    2. The entrance to the second unit shall not be located on the same building elevation as the entrance to the principal dwelling. The second unit entry shall be clearly subordinate to that of the principal dwelling. The appearance of a duplex shall be avoided;

    3. Exterior stairways, second floor entries, or balconies for second units shall only be allowed where privacy impacts on adjacent lots are insignificant, as determined by the approval authority; and

    4. No more than 40 percent of the frontage of a parcel shall be devoted to driveways. This standard may be modified for lots in a cul-de-sac, flag-lot, or at an expanded corner with narrow frontage (see Section 25.50, Definitions of Terms and Phrases).

    F. Findings for approval. The following findings shall be made by the approval authority, in addition to that required for a Conditional Use Permit, in order to grant approval of a second unit:

    1. There exist adequate public facilities, including sewer, water, or roadway capacities, to serve the second unit; and

    2. The design is consistent with all applicable development regulations and design standards.

    G. Recordation. All Conditional Use Permits for second units shall be recorded with the County of Solano, prior to issuance of any building permit. The purpose of recording the Conditional Use Permit is to ensure that future property owners are made aware of the conditions under which the second unit shall be maintained, including the granny flat occupancy requirement, and that the Conditional Use Permit is subject to City review and potential revocation for non-compliance with conditions. The property owner is responsible for recordation in a form approved by the City. Failure to record the permit shall be grounds for Conditional Use Permit revocation. Any granny flat approved by the City for which a waiver has been obtained by the applicant for any school fee shall record the fact that unit shall be solely occupied in a manner consistent with the definition for “Dwelling, Granny Flat,” as identified in Section 25.50.

  6. #6
    Cyburbian Richmond Jake's avatar
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    BKM - I agree that the state shouldn't mandate local land use regulations but I understand where they're coming from. I previously work for local gov't in California (they shall remain nameless, you know who you are), that adopted regulations so onerous as to effectively eliminate construction of second units. During the years I was there the highest number approved (all requiring discretionary permits), was 5 in a single calendar year.
    Annoyingly insensitive

  7. #7
    Member
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    Quote Originally posted by BKM
    Well, it did make housing advocates overjoyed.

    Not sure it should be mandated at the State level, but I am somewhat appalled that any city would abolish them outright.

    Here is the section from our ordinance.

    25.20.4.11 Second Dwelling Units

    A. Applicability. Second dwelling units and “granny flats” (also referred to as “second units”) are conditionally permitted on any lot where one single family detached dwelling is permitted or exists. Definitions for second units and granny flats are provided in Section 25.50. Second units shall not be counted as an additional dwelling for the purposes of calculating permitted General Plan or residential zoning density.

    B. Restrictions. All seconds unit shall comply with the following regulations:

    1. One second unit is allowed on a parcel 5,000 square feet or greater containing a detached single family dwelling. Any second unit proposed on a lot with a detached garage or any lot with alley access shall be exempt from this minimum lot size requirement.

    2. Second units are not allowed on lots with two or more dwellings, or on any lot with a guest house.

    3. The applicant for a Conditional Use Permit shall be both an owner and current resident of the property for which a second unit is proposed. An exception to the occupancy requirement is allowed where a second unit is to be constructed concurrent with the principal dwelling, and the owner will reside on the property upon completion of construction.

    4. A second unit may only be rented, leased, and/or occupied for residential purposes. Property containing a second unit shall not be subdivided from that on which the principal dwelling exists.

    5. Second units may be contained in an addition to the principal dwelling or in a detached building.

    6. Any illegal building additions or accessory structures shall be brought into compliance with the City Code prior to approval of the second unit.

    7. The placement of a second unit on any property shall comply with Section 25.20.4.1 (C).

    C. Unit size. No second unit (including granny flats) shall exceed 40 percent of the floor area of the principal dwelling or 1,200 square feet, whichever is less. The floor area of a second unit shall not be required to be less than 500 square feet.

    D. Parking.

    1. Number of spaces required. Exclusive of the parking required for the principal dwelling, the following parking shall be provided for a second unit:

    a. One space shall be required for an efficiency unit or one bedroom unit.

    b. Two spaces shall be required for a unit having two or more bedrooms. If two parking spaces are required for a second unit, they may be located in a tandem garage.

    2. Location. Parking spaces for the second unit shall be located where they will not interfere with or obstruct required parking for the principal dwelling unit. Parking shall not encroach into a front or street side yard except in a driveway apron (e.g.; between a garage door and the curb cut), and between a driveway apron and a side or rear property line (see Figure 25-2 below). When the parking area is located between the garage apron and side property line is 10 feet or wider, a fence/wall and/or landscaping shall be installed.



    1. The design shall be architecturally consistent with the principal dwelling including form, exterior siding, trim and color, roof materials, and window placement and type. It shall also be compatible with the height, mass, and general design of buildings in the immediate vicinity of the site;





    Figure 25-2: Allowed Second Unit Parking






    2. The entrance to the second unit shall not be located on the same building elevation as the entrance to the principal dwelling. The second unit entry shall be clearly subordinate to that of the principal dwelling. The appearance of a duplex shall be avoided;

    3. Exterior stairways, second floor entries, or balconies for second units shall only be allowed where privacy impacts on adjacent lots are insignificant, as determined by the approval authority; and

    4. No more than 40 percent of the frontage of a parcel shall be devoted to driveways. This standard may be modified for lots in a cul-de-sac, flag-lot, or at an expanded corner with narrow frontage (see Section 25.50, Definitions of Terms and Phrases).

    F. Findings for approval. The following findings shall be made by the approval authority, in addition to that required for a Conditional Use Permit, in order to grant approval of a second unit:

    1. There exist adequate public facilities, including sewer, water, or roadway capacities, to serve the second unit; and

    2. The design is consistent with all applicable development regulations and design standards.

    G. Recordation. All Conditional Use Permits for second units shall be recorded with the County of Solano, prior to issuance of any building permit. The purpose of recording the Conditional Use Permit is to ensure that future property owners are made aware of the conditions under which the second unit shall be maintained, including the granny flat occupancy requirement, and that the Conditional Use Permit is subject to City review and potential revocation for non-compliance with conditions. The property owner is responsible for recordation in a form approved by the City. Failure to record the permit shall be grounds for Conditional Use Permit revocation. Any granny flat approved by the City for which a waiver has been obtained by the applicant for any school fee shall record the fact that unit shall be solely occupied in a manner consistent with the definition for “Dwelling, Granny Flat,” as identified in Section 25.50.
    This is an interesting ordinance, because about two years ago the California State Legislature passed a statute that said local jurisdictions cannot require a CUP or other discretionary permit for "second units". I had to rewrite Burbank's ordinance for this and other reasons.

  8. #8
    Cyburbian jmello's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by RichmondJake
    I previously work for local gov't in California (they shall remain nameless, you know who you are), that adopted regulations so onerous as to effectively eliminate construction of second units.
    They are prohibited in most Massachusetts cities and towns. One of the biggest surprises down here is the prevalence of garage apartments, which are allowed by right in most zoning districts.

  9. #9
    Super Moderator luckless pedestrian's avatar
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    we alow them without a big deal

    what floored me was the practice of "opening windows" - that sounds chaotic, no?

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