‘Granny flats’ rules and sober-living permits are up for review by Costa Mesa’s Planning Commission


Proposed new rules regarding the development of secondary housing units — so-called “granny flats” — will go before the Costa Mesa Planning Commission for review Monday.

The changes outlined in Monday’s agenda are meant both to make Costa Mesa’s regulations consistent with state law and create standards that help preserve the character of local neighborhoods, according to city staff.

Granny flats — technically called accessory dwelling units — are smaller, complete homes that accompany a primary residence.


They can be attached, detached or fashioned out of re-purposed space within an existing home, such as a master bedroom.

Costa Mesa only permits accessory units in single-family residential zones.

However, staff is proposing they also be allowed in multifamily residential areas — provided a given parcel is already developed with a single residential unit.

Staff also proposes reducing the lot size required to build an accessory dwelling unit from 8,500 to 6,000 square feet, which would open the option up to more property owners.

The proposed revisions follow passage of state legislation last year meant to reduce barriers to developing such units.

Those spaces “have been found to be an affordable-by-design type of in-fill housing that can meet the needs of couples, small families, young people, students and seniors by offering new, below-market rentals in existing neighborhoods,” according to a city staff report.

Monday’s meeting starts at 6 p.m. in City Hall, 77 Fair Drive.

Sober-living permit application

In other business, commissioners will review two conditional use permit applications from Clean Path Recovery to operate a sober-living facility with up to 30 residents, as well as two live-in house managers, in eight units.

The facility, which Clean Path has operated since June 2014, is located on two adjoining properties at 574 and 578 Joann Street.

However, Costa Mesa codes state that sober-living homes may only occupy a single parcel.

Clean Path is asking the commission for relief from that rule.

“Clean Path Recovery has operated sober-living homes in the city of Costa Mesa going into our fifth year,” owner and operator Lee Heiligman wrote in a letter to the city. “CPR has always maintained a structured sober-living program for our residents, and we pride ourselves on the fact that we have had no complaints from any of the neighbors which border our homes.”

Staff recommends the commission deny the request and Clean Path’s permit applications.

Sober-living homes typically house recovering alcoholics and drug addicts, who are considered disabled under state and federal law.

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