Changes to allow more granny flats in Costa Mesa move forward – Orange County Register

COSTA MESA More “accessory apartment units,” sometimes known as granny flats, could be coming if officials endorse proposed rules that would expand where they are permitted.

The first hurdle was cleared Tuesday, Oct. 10 when the Planning Commission voted 4-1 to bring the city in conformity with a state law that makes it easier for residents to build accessory units — thereby increasing affordable housing stock.

Commissioner Jeff Harlan dissented but acknowledged the need for affordable housing options.

“I see the need for housing and this is one way to do it,” he said. “It’s not the only way. To my mind, this is at least an attempt for us to encourage housing that we need, housing that people can probably afford.”

The proposed rules would permit the secondary units on lots of at least 7,500 square feet in single-family zones — down from the 8,500 square feet currently allowed.

Granny flats are not currently allowed in multi-family areas, but would be permitted on lots of 6,000 to 7,260 square feet under the proposed rules.

If approved by the City Council at a later date, the rules could add about 3,895 accessory units in the city, though the number could be far lower, given certain parking and spacing requirements, according to a staff report.

Newport Beach recently got rid of its restrictions to allow more secondary living units.

Though the proposed changes moved forward, some commissioners criticized the mandate, arguing it could change the character of Costa Mesa’s single-family neighborhoods.

“It completely ignores our general plan and basically allows for increased density for R1 (single-family) neighborhoods,” said Commission Chairman Stephan Andranian. ”

Commissioner Carla Navarro Woods said granny flats would provide housing options to multi-generational families and middle-class families of lower financial means.

“Those are the folks that I think that this law is really directed to,” she said. “Folks that can’t…

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