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Goleta Eyes Accessory Dwelling Units as Way to Boost Affordable Housing

The Goleta City Council talked about attaching its accessory dwelling unit regulations to the zoning ordinance leaders are working on, but the group did not take any action during its Tuesday meeting on the issue.

The state of California in 2016 legalized so-called ADUs, also known as “granny flats,” in an attempt to enhance affordable housing options. The law went into effect in Jan.1 2017, giving homeowners the ability to build second units that are attached or unattached to their homes.

Cities and counties, however, have the power to create local ordinances that shape the size of the units and where they could be built.

Although the city of Santa Barbara has been deluged with granny flat applications, more than 150 so far, Goleta hasn’t yet received any applications. City officials, however, believe that it is just a matter of time.

“What the state is doing here is one size fits all,” Goleta resident Cecilia Brown said during Tuesday's City Council meeting.

“There is some wiggle room in setting your own standards for an ADU ordinance. For me it is about neighborhood character and how our neighborhoods look. Preserving the character of our neighborhoods is really important as we see changes.”

The council took no action at the meeting, although it hinted that it supported regulation of ADUs inside a zoning ordinance that it is working on separately.

The council also chose to wait before taking action because Gov. Jerry Brown is likely to sign two bills, SB 229 and AB 494, which would outline additional rules related to parking spaces, garage conversions and other cleanup language for ADUs.

During public comment, community members urged city leaders to embrace the new law because it would provide affordable housing, without building additional tract home developments.

Goleta resident Kevin Barthel said that many of the city's neighborhoods could easily absorb granny flats. He said one of three homes near La Patera school have “just a widow in there.”

“This would be a wonderful opportunity to repopulate La Patera school so you don’t have to bring them in from the other side of town,” Barthel said. “This would empower the local Goleta homeowners, not the LA developers.”

He urged the city to keep development fees low so that homeowners wouldn’t be discouraged from building new units.

“This actually has a chance of providing affordable housing,” Barthel said.

Mayor Paula Perotte said she would like to see an ADU ordinance that requires homeowners to be residents on properties with ADUs.

“I think it is really important that the owner live in the home,” Perotte said.

Councilman Stuart Kasdin said he likes idea of also creating a junior accessory dwelling unit ordinance, which would require units to be less than 500 square feet and would not require the homeowner to create additional off-street parking spaces.

“Smaller units are likely to be cheaper and therefore be more affordable,” Kasdin said.

Noozhawk staff writer Joshua Molina can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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