Laguna Beach planners to tackle 'granny flats' ordinance on Wednesday

Laguna Beach planners to tackle 'granny flats' ordinance on Wednesday
The Laguna Beach Planning Commission on Wednesday will discuss potential changes to a city ordinance pertaining to accessory dwelling units, such as this one-bedroom apartment in Glendale. (Raul Roa | Staff Photographer)

The Laguna Beach Planning Commission on Wednesday will consider potential changes to a city ordinance for accessory dwelling units, also known as "granny flats" and second residential units.

Changes in state law have triggered similar discussions in other cities regarding the units.


These types of units can be attached or detached from a primary residence and provide independent living space for one or more people, according to a city staff report.

Gov. Jerry Brown last year signed Assembly Bill 2299 from Richard Bloom (D-Santa Monica) and Senate Bill 1069 by Bob Wieckowski (D-Fremont).


The goal of the new legislation is making it easier to develop affordable housing options for family members, students, seniors, in-home care providers, and disabled persons, the report said.

The changes stand to impact requirements for such things as lot size and parking.

In July, the commission held a joint public workshop with the city's Housing and Human Services Committee and Senior Housing Task Force to provide an update on state law changes and gather feedback.

Laguna's current ordinance allows accessory units on lots at least 6,000 square feet within certain areas, such as the R-1 zone.

But city staff, on recommendation from the housing committee, is recommending the threshold be reduced to at least 5,000 square feet on condition the lot be deed-restricted to low-income people, such as seniors, according to the report.

In Laguna there are currently 3,700 lots eligible to establish accessory dwelling units. If the minimum lot size was reduced to 5,000 square feet, then 560 more lots could be eligible for a unit, the report said.

City staff is also suggesting revising parking rules to align with new state law.

The new state legislation waives some parking requirements for accessory dwelling units when the unit is located within a half-mile of public transit or the unit is part of an existing primary residence or existing accessory structure, among other scenarios, the city's report said.

If the parking exemptions do not apply, and on-site parking is not feasible because of the land's topography, the homeowner must provide one on-street public parking space, Laguna staff members suggest.

The city has received multiple inquiries about converting detached garages built between the 1920s and '40s that stand on lots less than 5,000 square feet, including one that measures 4,200 square feet, according to the report.

Under Laguna's current ordinance, the property owner would need to provide two covered parking spaces if he or she converted a detached garage to a second residential unit.

In this scenario, the resulting 1,848-square-foot house with the accessory unit and additional covered parking, would be too large for that size of a lot, under city code.

Wednesday's meeting begins at 6 p.m. at City Hall, 505 Forest Ave.

Twitter: @AldertonBryce