Newport Beach temporarily waives permitting fees for ‘granny flats’ through end of 2022

An example of a “granny flat,” or accessory dwelling unit, is shown at right in Santee.
An example of a “granny flat,” or accessory dwelling unit, is shown at right in Santee.
(Karen Pearlman / The San Diego Union-Tribune)

Permitting fees for accessory dwelling units — colloquially called “granny flats” — in Newport Beach will now be waived through the end of 2022, following City Council action Tuesday.

Accessory dwelling units are small homes or apartments built on the same lots as larger, single-family homes. That can include attached or stand-alone guest houses, converted garages and apartments built above garages. Typical costs for permitting can range anywhere between $1,000 to $5,000, depending on the scope of the project.

The City Council voted to adopt the pilot program to temporarily waive the costs of project plan reviews, building construction permit reviews and other city permits related to the creation of a granny flat or a junior accessory dwelling unit, which are smaller in scale.

Councilmen Duffy Duffield and Noah Blom were absent.

The intent of the program, officials said, is to encourage the development of accessory dwelling units and prompt owners of unpermitted units to seek out permits and come into compliance.

“We really want to encourage property owners with existing, illegal ADUs to reach out and work with our staff to obtain the necessary permits to bring the units into compliance,” said Mayor Brad Avery in a statement released by the city on Friday.

“We also expect that property owners who are considering ADU construction or conversion will use this opportunity to save money on city permitting costs,” Avery said.

Newport Beach previously eased restrictions on granny flats in 2017 after state lawmakers forced local jurisdictions to lower barriers to increase development in an effort to increase housing stock across California. Before, the city generally prohibited these add-ons, except for those that were 55 years or older.

City officials are hoping that the growth of this kind of lower-cost housing will be able to help Newport Beach meet its Regional Housing Needs Assessment numbers — which quantifies the need for housing — over the next eight years.

The fee waiver will not apply to any accessory dwelling units or junior accessory dwelling units part of a new development project.

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