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Homeowners may see significant decrease in city fees for construction of granny flats

On Tuesday, Glendale City Council took initial steps to lower the fees property owners must pay to construct second-unit expansions, known as a granny flats or accessory-dwelling units, so they are more aligned with neighboring cities.

Council members unanimously directed staff to develop an ordinance that would revise the fees to a flat cost of $4,700 for both single-family homes and multifamily residences.

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The method proposed is calculated from a close average of the suggested cost-per-square-foot ADU fees for a single and multifamily home, $4,245 and $5,205, respectively, that were initially proposed by city staff.

The move comes after concerns were raised about the current ordinance assessing a development-impact fee — a way to collect funds from new development to offset impacts to the city's parks and libraries — on the addition of a granny flat was "prohibitively high" for homeowners.

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Currently, the impact fee for construction of an accessory-dwelling unit is $21,828 for a single-family home and $18,751 for a multifamily residence despite the lower construction costs associated with the 500 square-foot maximum allowed in Glendale for granny flats.

"[The current impact-fee ordinance] assesses the same fee no matter how large or small the unit is," said Tereza Aleksanian, community services manager with the city.

Accessory-dwelling units are not granted a fee reduction in the impact-fee ordinance, but a revision would impose a "proportional fair share" on granny flat fees, according to city documents.

In a staff survey of comparable cities that charge impact fees for accessory-dwelling units, Glendale far exceeds cities such as Burbank and Santa Monica. The city is surpassed only by Pasadena's $17,000 to $33,000 fee range in extreme instances.

Los Angeles exempts granny flats from an impact fee.

Councilman Zareh Sinanyan, who pushed for more affordable housing during his reelection campaign, said the disparity in accessory-dwelling unit fees among Glendale and neighboring cities is "drastic."

"I think that is indicative of the fact that these cities are not trying to create artificial impediments to the creation of ADUs — something that the state has mandated us to do," Sinanyan said Tuesday.

In February, City Council adopted a temporary process to review and approve granny flats based on a more conservation limitation on size and rental arrangements when compared to statewide law. The interim ordinance was adopted under urgency, lasting only 45 days, but was immediately extended by 10 months and 15 days just a few weeks later.

City staff will return to council with an updated fee resolution at a later date.

Twitter: @JeffLanda

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