Public Hearing Tonight on "Accessory Dwelling Units," So-Called "Granny Flats"

Published : Monday, June 19, 2017 | 5:42 AM

The Pasadena City Council will hold a public hearing on Monday, June 19, to gather community input on proposed amendments to the City’s accessory dwelling unit regulations which the City initiated in the beginning of the year in order to comply with recently amended state law.

Since January, the City’s Department of Planning and Community Development has been conducting public hearings and consultations as part of a comprehensive review of existing accessory dwelling regulations in an effort to come up with a definite ordinance by the end of June.

Pasadena’s original “second dwelling unit” regulations have been in force since 2004.

In September last year, state law related to accessory dwelling units was amended through both AB 2299 and SB 1069, making considerable changes to the ability of local municipalities to regulate such units.

On May 24, the City’s Planning Commission voted to recommend the approval of recommendations by the Planning and Community Development Department about amending the accessory dwelling regulations, with two additional changes: that the minimum lot size requirement applicable to accessory dwelling units created by adding new square footage be lowered to 5,000 square feet, and that the size of detached accessory dwelling units required to be smaller than the existing primary dwelling.

The Planning Commission also requested some change in the ordinance language to clearly state that standards on accessory dwelling units located within Landmark Overlay Districts are also applied to accessory dwelling units located within National Registry Districts, and that standards applicable to original windows and doors for accessory dwelling units located within historic districts and individually designated properties are also applied to non-original windows and doors. The language should also state difference between accessory structures and accessory dwelling units, the Planning Commission said.

Between 2004 and 2016, two building permits for accessory dwelling units were approved and constructed. Since the beginning of this year, the City has received four accessory dwelling unit applications, two of which were subsequently withdrawn.

During previous public hearings and community meetings, the majority of the public comments showed support for adopting less restrictive standards for accessory dwelling units by lowering the maximum lot size requirement, allowing accessory dwelling units in Hillside and Landmark Overlay Districts, and multi-family zoning districts under certain conditions, increasing the maximum unit size, and allowing second-story accessory dwelling units.

Some comments also indicated opposition to adopting less restrictive standards, based on concerns about the preservation of single-family neighborhoods. Other comments included concerns about the enforcement of the required operational standards such as owner-occupant requirement and short-term rental prohibition, the Residential Impact Fee, and the impact of accessory dwelling units on housing supply and affordable housing.

At Monday’s public hearing, Planning and Community Development Department staff are expected to present the more significant proposed amendments and explain these with data comparing them with the state law requirements.

Most of the proposed amendments pertain to maximum unit size, minimum unit size for exterior accessory dwelling units, setbacks for detached exterior accessory dwelling units, windows and doors for interior accessory dwelling units located within historic districts, location of the unit’s entry door, and building separation.

The public hearing portion of the City Council meeting usually starts at or very close to 7 p.m. It will be held in the Council Chambers on the second floor of Pasadena City Hall, 100 North Garfield Avenue, Pasadena.

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