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City of Goleta Mulling Regulations for Accessory Dwelling Units

Some speakers at workshop urge city to focus on neighborhood preservation and limit the maximum size of ADUs

Goleta Planning Commission Chairwoman Katie Maynard talks to Paul Poirer of the American Institite of Architects while Goleta resident James Kyriaco writes down suggestions on a white board at Monday’s Goleta Planning Commission workshop on accessory dwelling units. Click to view larger
Goleta Planning Commission Chairwoman Katie Maynard talks to Paul Poirer of the American Institite of Architects while Goleta resident James Kyriaco writes down suggestions on a white board at Monday’s Goleta Planning Commission workshop on accessory dwelling units. (Josh Molina / Noozhawk Photo)

The city of Goleta can’t stop homeowners from building accessory dwelling units, but it can place limits on their size.

The Goleta Planning Commission on Monday wrestled with how to regulate ADUs. The state of California has mandated that local governments approve accessory dwelling units to help boost the number of affordable housing units throughout the state.

The state 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 can be built. The approval of the ADUs must be over-the-counter and approved within six months of application.

The Planning Commission meeting was a workshop, so no formal action was taken. The city has not approved an ADU since 2003. Currently, obtaining all the permits for an ADU costs about $16,300.

Some of the speakers at the meeting urged Goleta to focus on neighborhood preservation, and limit the maximum size of ADUs.

“This is really about affordability,” said Goleta resident Cecilia Brown. “The bigger the unit, the more rent you are going to get for that. You should look at the character of the neighborhoods and streetscapes, and understand what is out there. I urge you to consider that the maximum may not be the best for our neighborhoods.”

The state allows ADUs to be as large as 1,200 square feet or 50 percent of the lot size for attached or detached units.

James Kyriaco, a lifelong South Coast resident, said smaller ADUs are better.

“1,200 square feet is the ceiling, but that doesn’t mean we have to treat it like it is the floor,” Kyriaco said. “That’s not going to be good for the character of our neighborhoods.”

Kyriaco said he is concerned about the “McMansionization” of Goleta.

Commissioner Jennifer Smith agreed that 1,200 square feet is too big.

“This is an exciting opportunity for us to create some affordable-by-design structures in our community,” Smith said. “The maximum allowed under state law for our community is just too big. 1,200 square feet is pretty significant. I would be in favor of reducing that.”

Paul Poirer of the American Institute of Architects said ADUs will allow people to find housing in such an expensive region. He said he rented in Goleta and “lived in the ghetto” on Santa Barbara’s Cota Street when he was starting out as a draftsman.

“This is an opportunity for the city of Goleta to not only really start providing affordable housing but workforce housing,” Poirer said. “It is really hard for people to get a place to live. They are not going to roll into town with a college degree and buy a house here; that is pretty obvious.”

The workshop was one of several that the city plans to hold on the ADU issues. It also is talking about items such as setbacks, height of the ADU units, and costs of permits.

Commissioner Robert Miller said he believes that that the ADUs represent a great opportunity for the community.

“Housing is a huge issue in California,” Miller said. “It is a huge challenge for us as a state and a community. I hadn’t really given a lot of thought to ADUs until this issue came before us.

"I do think we have an opportunity to do something smart that doesn’t change the character of our community, but allows of different options for housing for the people of our community.”

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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