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Newport Beach council passes update to local 'granny flat' rules

Accessory dwelling units can now be built in any residential zoning district in Newport Beach.

The City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to relax the local regulations, which previously allowed the secondary units — commonly called “granny flats” — in areas zoned only for single-family homes, to match a change in state law allowing them in all residential areas.

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The continued loosening of local regulations on accessory dwelling units over the last year has been because of changes to the state law, which was designed to encourage the affordable-by-design infill housing type. Before changes at the state level took effect in 2017, Newport typically only allowed the units for residents age 55 or older.

The council’s recent amendment follows an update to the state law allowing granny flats to be added to the interior of single-family houses in any residential district.

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Following a recommendation from city staff, the council decided to take the state change a step further by allowing the units to accompany single-family houses as unattached dwellings — or as attached units with a separate exterior entrance — in any residential district to make a uniform set of regulations that is easier to implement and understand.

Staff said four granny flats have been permitted over the last year.

Inspection fees

Building inspection fees also are changing, some going up and some going down.

With virtually no discussion, the council unanimously approved a package of modifications to the “life safety services” fee schedule — increasing 58 fees, adding 28, decreasing eight and eliminating 37 altogether.

These fees include annual business operations permit inspections and fire prevention inspections of newly built hotels and apartment complexes. All told, city staff expects the revised fees to bring in an additional $58,000 a year in cost recovery.

The council approved a raft of other changes to city fees, such as charges for paramedic responses and parking ticket payment plans, in July, but held off on the planned life safety services fee updates to work on comparison data for the local Building Industry Assn.

On the association’s suggestion, the new fees will not take effect for another six months.

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