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Local News

Santa Barbara Council Relaxes ADU Water Meter Requirements; Certifies Election

The Santa Barbara City Council voted unanimously on Tuesday to exempt applicants of accessory dwelling units from having to install a separate water meter. 

A new state law is forcing local governments to allow homeowners to build so-called "granny units" as a way to ease California’s affordable-housing crisis.

The city has received nearly 200 applications since the beginning of 2017. About one-quarter of the applications are seeking approval for granny units that were already converted before the new law went into place.

The council voted unanimously to initiate an ADU ordinance, but many of the details still need to be worked out by the city Planning Commission and planning staff.

Previously, the city had required ADU applicants to install a separate water meter The city’s individual metering requirement dates back to the late 1980s.

City staff has long recognized the policy as a "robust water conservation tool."

Property owners, planning consultants and architects are in wide support of the new law because of the financial benefits it brings, but some neighborhood activists are concerned that more housing will ruin the character of the neighborhoods.

In a short meeting Tuesday, the City Council voted against requiring separate water meters so that the cost, which could run as much as $20,000, would not burden applicants. 

Although the city cannot stop the approval of ADUs, it can set parameters. The city is looking an ordinance that allows ADUS in all residential zones, on lots that are a minimum of 5,000 square feet.

If the unit is attached to the primary structure, it cannot exceed 600 feet, or 50 percent of the existing unit. If it is detached, the maximum would be 1,200 square feet.

The property owners only have to provide one off-street parking space per ADU, but no parking would be required if the unit is within a half-mile of public transit.

Councilman Frank Hotchkiss agreed that the city should make it easier for property owners to build the accessory dwelling units. 

"The spirit of this seems to me is to facilitate ADUs and to save people money, all which sounds good to me," Hotchkiss said. 

Council Certifies Election

It's official. Cathy Murillo will be the new mayor of Santa Barbara. Gregg Hart, Kristen Sneddon and Eric Friedman are also official winners. And Measure C was approved by voters.

The Santa Barbara City Council certified the winners of the 2017 election on Tuesday. 

The official turnout was 51 percent, with 24,948 people casting ballots. Visit here for a full breakdown of votes by precinct.

The new council will be sworn in at the first meeting in January. The council will then start the replacement process for a Murillo's council seat.

She was elected mayor with two years left in her term. The council will hold a public interview process and make an appointment in early 2018.

Charging Station Ordinance

In another response to a state mandate, the Santa Barbara City Council's ordinance committee on Tuesday moved to create an electric vehicle charging station ordinance.

Senate Bill 1236, approved in 2015, requires local governments to eliminate discretionary building permit review of new electric vehicle charging stations. The state is attempting to increase electric vehicle use statewide.

Since the city cannot require steep review of the new stations, the ordinance would enact "best practices" for people looking to build a public charging station.

They include: screening charging stations from view; limiting or eliminating the negative impacts on historical properties; and mitigating potential noise problems between neighbors.

The full council must still approve the ordinance. 

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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