Real Estate July 18, 2017

Accessory dwelling units in Santa Barbara

On September 27, 2016 California Governor Jerry Brown signed Assembly Bill AB 2299 and Senate Bill SB 1069 which significantly expands the right of residential property owners to develop “accessory dwelling units” or ADUs, also known as second units or granny flats with kitchens. The new state law requires “ministerial, nondiscretionary approval” of ADUs, with guidelines that supersede pre-existing city ordinances in Santa Barbara.

A significant part of the new law that went effective January 1st eliminates additional parking requirements if the second unit is developed within an existing one-family dwelling or accessory structure, such as a detached garage. This has quite an impact on Santa Barbara since parking is a huge issue the city faces. Other changes the new law makes is a 1,200 sq.ft. size limit, larger than Santa Barbara’s previous limit, provided that the second unit does not exceed 50 percent of the existing legal living area of the principal dwelling. Also, there is no minimum lot size specified in the new law where Santa Barbara County’s previous requirement was 7,000 sq.ft.

On July 24, 2017 Santa Barbara’s Design Board is reviewing a drafted local ADU ordinance that must work with the new state law. The ordinance will then be reviewed by the Historic Landmarks Commission on July 26. Proposed Santa Barbara ordinance amendments include that if an ADU is rented out the rental period must not be less than 31 days, and that the property owner must reside on the property, either in the principal residence or the ADU. It will be important and interesting to see what Santa Barbara can implement and get past the Department of Housing and Community Development in their new ordinance while still complying with the new state law.

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