Following lengthy discussions at its Monday, Oct. 25 meeting, Carpinteria City Council directed staff to move forward with drafting a proposed accessory dwelling unit (ADU) and junior accessory dwelling unit (JADU) ordinance, choosing from a number of criteria for the ordinance presented by city staff.
The difference between the two is that a junior accessory dwelling unit must be under 500 square feet, Rita Bright, principal planner, said during the meeting. Per the report, a JADU can be created within the walls of a “proposed or existing single-family residence” and are not allowed as accessory structures.
ADUs are larger than JADUs, and are typically classified as either a state exempt ADU – an ADU that complies with a basic set of development standards – or a standard ADU, which falls under additional local purview. According to the report, state law requires that a studio or one-bedroom ADU “be no smaller” than 850 square feet, and that ADUs with more than one bedroom “be no smaller” than 1,000 square feet. State exempt ADUs, however, cannot be bigger than 800 square feet.
The council ultimately opted for the preparation of a hybrid ADU and JADU program. The program excludes Zone 1, which stretches from the ocean side of Sandyland Road between Linden and Ash avenues, and requires on-site parking for ADUs located in Zone 2; it also allows for discretionary review regarding flooding. Zone 2 composes properties east of Holly Avenue and north of 3rd Street located in the beach neighborhood, excluding the northeast corner of the neighborhood.
“Initially I liked option 1, but as we’re going forward, option 5 I believe will be the best move,” Councilmember Roy Lee said. “I want to emphasize that in the final draft it should benefit the homeowner. It should be a simple and painstakingly-free process to convert ADUs or JADUs (...) I don’t want to create any hardships for any other neighborhoods.”
Steve Goggia, community development director, confirmed there are logistical concerns over a proposed ADU ordinance, stating that because Carpinteria is located in the coastal zone, there are issues in the state ADU ordinance that “can appear to be in conflict” with Carpinteria’s coastal policies.
Due to these conflicts, the city staff and the Planning Commission recommended a few proposed amendments to the Carpinteria Municipal Code.
Bright said that, consistent with state housing laws, ADUs and JADUs would be allowed where “residential-use is currently allowed.” But a possible ADU and JADU ordinance is further complicated by the city’s sea rise vulnerability assessment, which found that 90% of the city’s vulnerable properties are residential and are located in the city’s beach neighborhood.
“The addition of ADU-JADU residents in (the beach neighborhood and parts of the Concha Loma neighborhood) with existing high coastal access use, along with projected loss of beach access parking, including on-street public parking, may result in adverse effects upon coastal access,” the report reads.
“We wanted to talk about it with you, the concept. Then we’ll refine (the ordinance) and submit it,” Bright said. “We’ve done a lot of review and re-writing and revision to try and craft the best objective development standards that we felt we could do to capture good design, but not trigger or trip a consistency concern.”
Councilmembers brought up concerns about ADUs in the beach neighborhood and the Concha Loma neighborhood, particularly how ADUs could add to parking problems in the area.
Lee asked if, under the policy, “people could put an Airstream (trailer) in their backyard” and classify that as an ADU; Bright clarified there are different requirements for a mobile home versus an ADU or JADU.
Councilmember Gregg Carty pointed out that it is difficult to afford to build an ADU, and that “the families and the folks that probably need this the most, I still have a feeling they’re going to have a hard time affording to do this.” He called the price of construction “through the roof.”
“The folks who need this the most are still going to suffer,” Carty said. “I’m strongly in favor of making it straightforward.”
City staff will now move forward with drafting a final ordinance. It will be brought back to the council at a future date.