Wednesday, November 6, 2019

First Land Use Sub Committee Meeting - Accessory Dwelling Units

I'm a bit late in my summary of a meeting held late last month.  I mentioned this in my Council report at last night's meeting, but wanted to write a bit more on it.

Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) were the topic of the first Land Use Sub Committee meeting that was held on October 29.  The Sub Committee was formed at the 8.20.19 meeting for the purpose of providing feedback to staff in a less formal environment to assist in drafting policy and to give feedback to developers interested in projects within the city.  Myself and Mayor Catalano serve on the sub committee along with the Chair and Vice Chair of the Planning Commission.

Here is what we learned:

In 2019, AB 881, SB 13, and AB 68 were passed.  These three laws significantly change the ADU environment:
  • AB 881 prohibits minimum lot size for ADUs, makes maximum side and rear setback requirements four feet, and limits reasons for restricting ADUs to only adequacy of water and sewer services and traffic flow.  It also voids any parking requirement for ADUs if located within 1/2 mile of public transit like a bus stop.
  • SB 13 prohibits any maximum size on ADUs less than 850 sqft, or 1,000 sqft if the ADU has more than one bedroom.  No limits are allowed based on lot coverage, floor are ratio, open space, etc. if they would prohibit at least an 800 sqft ADU that is at least 16 feet tall with 4 feet setbacks.  This bill also allows for 5 year delay of fixing code violations as long as the violation is not jeopardizing health and safety.
  • AB 68 allows any place that has one ADU, to have a second junior ADU.  This means that every property in CA can now have up to three individual residential units placed upon them, even if they are zoned for single family use.
Together, these bills make it much easier for people to build ADUs.  Because ADUs would be authorized in all single family zoning, the effect of these bills is to eliminate single family zoning in all of California.  People would be able to build at least two ADUs per lot, as close as 4 feet from the fence line, with a 16 foot tall structure - everywhere.

The city has very limited options in any type of restrictions that apply to ADUs.  Clayton could adopt a local ADU ordinance regarding the architectural, landscaping, zoning, and development standards of ADUs.  These standards would need to be objective in nature and are subject to review by HCD.

This is another step in the tearing down of local control that folks like State Senator Scott Weiner and State Assemblyman David Chiu continue to push.