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Burbank amends ordinance regulating granny flats to meet new state mandates

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An accessory-dwelling unit in Solana Beach in San Diego. Burbank amended its regulations regarding ADUs, or granny flats, on Tuesday to meet the standards set in new state laws.
(Jared Basler/San Diego Union-Tribune)

Burbank officials implemented more permanent regulations on Tuesday to prevent the state from imposing new regulations regarding accessory-dwelling units, known as ADUs or granny flats.

The City Council unanimously voted to adopt an urgency ordinance updating the city’s rules on ADUs and junior ADUs to meet the state’s criteria and avoid the new state laws from automatically being the default regulations.

Council members said they think the laws will negatively impact single-family neighborhoods.

The new regulations — Assembly bills 68 and 881 and Senate Bill 13 — went into effect on Jan. 1 and allow for accessory-dwelling units to be built in areas of the city that many residents and the council want to protect, such as the Rancho District, where horses can be stabled on residential property, as well as houses in Burbank’s hillside fire zone.

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“We all have [gotten] lots of emails from residents throughout the city of Burbank requesting us to stand up against Sacramento and protect [single-family neighborhoods],” Vice Mayor Bob Frutos said.

Councilwoman Emily Gabel-Luddy said she and her colleagues spoke to state Assemblywoman Laura Friedman (D-Glendale), who was one of the co-authors of AB 68 and whose district includes Burbank, and told her that Burbank is unique compared to other cities in the state, and that the new state laws shouldn’t be a one-size-fits-all fix.

“We are not the Westside. We are not Berkeley. We are not Northern California,” Gabel-Luddy said.

“We have our own style and character that grows out of a very important history of a working-class community coming around Lockheed, coming out of agriculture, moving into tech and studio, but our personality is not acknowledged at 30,000 feet, and that’s why this thing is so, so reprehensible,” she added.

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The intent of the state laws is to address California’s housing shortage by increasing the housing stock, but many residents and all of the council members think the state is stripping cities of local control regarding ADUs.

The amendments to the city’s ADU ordinance are similar to regulations listed in the city’s interim development-control ordinance regarding the matter that was approved by the City Council in December.

Granny flats will be allowed in areas zoned residential in the city, with specific conditions when they are built in R-1-H neighborhoods — including the Rancho District — and in fire areas.

Additionally, the city has to permit ADUs that are at least 850 square feet if detached from the main house, and granny flats can be up to 1,000 square feet if they are detached and have two bedrooms.

Junior ADUs — accessory-dwelling units that are attached to the main house — can be up to 500 square feet.

Also, Burbank planning staff will now have 60 days instead of 120 days to review an ADU project.

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