COSTA MESA – The Planning Commission postponed a vote that would allow secondary housing units, also known as granny flats, to be built in multi-family residential areas in an effort to comply with state law.
Voicing concerns over staff recommendations for minimum lot size and parking requirements, the commission voted 5-0 Monday, Sept. 11 to shelve the matter until after a special joint study session with the City Council to discuss an ordinance that would ease standards for small-lot developments up to 15 units.
“What I’m trying to avoid is setting a lot standard that would undermine one ordinance for the other,” said Commission Byron de Arakal.
Currently, Costa Mesa only allows granny flats in single-family zones.
The proposed code amendment would allow property owners in multi-residential areas where a parcel is developed with a single-residential unit to build accessory dwelling units. The intention is to comply with a new state law that allows the development of the units in an effort to increase affordable housing.
The minimum lot size on land parcels where second units would be allowed would be reduced from 8,500 square feet to 6,000 square feet.
In Orange County, only Garden Grove, Anaheim, Tustin and Newport Beach have adopted ordinances to comply with the state law.
Commission Chair Stephan Andranian said the lot size issue would conflict with the city’s small-lot ordinance.
“The minimum lot size here would prevent one of these units from being built on a small-lot ordinance project,” he said.
Andranian said he would like to see the lot size range from 7,000 to 7,500 square feet, which would apply to 5,500 lots in the city.
City staff also recommended each unit, both detached and attached, be no more than 800 square feet. Other recommendations: that no unit can be rented for a period of less than 30 days and that either the single-family home or accessory unit be occupied by the property owner.
The amendment also calls for one parking space per unit — the current requirement is two spaces per unit — and the allowance of mechanical lifts if it can be completely screened from public view.
Commissioner Isabell Kerrins, who has worked in real estate for 30 years, said the presumably cheaper cost of the accessory units would benefit young people and the elderly the most.
“Many people are leaving California because they can’t find affordable housing,” she said.
The state law does not mandate landlords charge below-market…