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Posted on: May 19, 2020

Council revises accessory dwelling unit regulations, renews incentive program

Accessory dwelling unit

The City Council on May 18 introduced accessory dwelling unit ordinances to revise regulations, better accommodate accessory units on duplex properties and renew an incentive program for property owners who dedicate accessory units as affordable housing.

Adoption of the ordinances is set for June 1.

State laws targeting housing shortages require local jurisdictions to simplify and speed up permitting for accessory units. The laws limit Del Mar’s ability to review designs and apply certain development requirements. New regulations provide an exemption of the ADU’s floor area from the lot’s floor area ratio limit.

Under the laws, plans for accessory dwelling units, or ADUs, are not subject to public hearings. Administrative approvals of completed applications must be finalized within 60 days.

Commonly called granny flats, ADUs can range from 850 to 1,000 square feet with a maximum height of 16 feet. Additional guidelines cover “Junior ADUs” of to 500 square feet.

The Council approved expanding options in areas zoned for duplexes. In those zones, one ADU per primary dwelling unit is permitted, as well as:

  • One ADU within the walls of the existing primary dwelling unit; or
  • One ADU attached to the existing primary dwelling unit; or
  • One detached ADU per primary dwelling unit.

Also on May 18, the City Council renewed for two years a pilot program that provides an incentive for property owners to dedicate accessory units as low-income housing. The program offers property owners a floor area bonus of 500 square feet in exchange for setting aside an accessory dwelling unit for 30 years as deed-restricted affordable housing.

Up and down California, State authorities have ordered cities to increase their housing inventories.

Del Mar is in the midst of updating the Housing Element of its Community Plan. As part of the Housing Element Update, Del Mar must find capacity in its zoning to add 163 units across a range of affordability. ADUs can satisfy a portion of that requirement.

Open a video of the City Council hearing

Open the amended ordinance (PDF)

Open the staff report for the ordinance to encourage ADUs as deed-restricted affordable units (PDF)

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