The city of Goleta is trying to get a handle on how far it can go to regulate granny flats, or so-called accessory dwelling units. Like all California cities, Goleta is wrestling with a state mandate to allow accessory dwelling units to help ease California’s affordable-housing crisis. As population and housing demand grow, new supply has not kept pace, sending the cost of housing soaring. State lawmakers in 2017 approved the ADU mandate with the idea that it would be a quick way to create inexpensive affordable housing in neighborhoods. If the ADUs comply with state standards and the building code, approval must be ministerial. The city plans to create an application checklist to facilitate “administrative design review,” so that applicants could receive “over-the-counter” permit approval. The only area where cities have input are in landscape screening and architectural design.
The city’s Design Review Board talked about the landscaping and architectural guidelines at its Feb. 7 meeting.“The character of the architecture should match the existing building,” said chairman Scott Branch. The size of Accessory Dwelling Units can be no larger than 50 percent of the existing square footage of the house, or up to 1,200 square feet. Some communities, including both Santa Barbara and Goleta, have resisted ADUs in an effort to preserve the character of neighborhoods. Goleta, for example, has high development fees, which serve as a cost-prohibitive barrier for many families and homeowners.
Branch, an architect, said he just designed an ADU for a client in Goleta. The client, he said, was converting an existing interior garage space of less than 300 square feet into an ADU — and the development fees were $17,000. “Something like that kind of defeats the purpose,” Branch said. “Seems pretty steep to me for that amount of square footage. Something like that seems to defeat the purpose of what the ADU is in the first place. Anne Wells, the city’s Advance Planning Manager, said the city plans to review its fee structure for ADU conversions. “We are aware of the fee issue and we are actually doing a study,” Well said.
Homeowners who convert garages into ADUs would have to replace the parking on the lot, unless the home is within a half mile of public transit, which is only about 2 percent of the city.
The Goleta City Council will make the final decision on what types of landscaping and architectural standards ADUs should have.
*Thank you to Noozhawk and Joshua Molina for text, and City-Data.com for photo*