The Goleta City Council adopted a pair of ordinances Tuesday night regarding the city’s accessory dwelling unit ordinance.
The council voted 5-0 in favor of an urgency ordinance that repeals and replaces the city’s current ADU ordinance, and also voted unanimously in favor of another ordinance regarding ADUs and Junior ADUs.
During the 2019 legislative season, Gov. Gavin Newsome signed into law three new bills related to ADUs, which made numerous changes to state law effective Jan. 1. The new laws dealt with issues such as where ADUs can be located, size and parking regulations, how ADUs are reviewed, owner-occupancy requirements and short-term rental status.
The newly adopted ADU ordinance makes significant revisions to the city’s previous ordinance. Among the most significant changes is the inclusion of exemptions from zoning permits for four sets of ADUs and Junior ADUs in order to comply with state law. The exemptions include: one ADU or Junior ADU on a lot with a proposed or existing single-unit dwelling on it, where the unit is within the existing single-unit dwelling; one detached, new construction ADU on a lot with a proposed or existing single-unit dwelling, up to 16 feet in height and 800 square feet, if there are at least four-foot side and rear setbacks; at least one ADU, and up to 25% of the number of existing units, in a multifamily dwelling where the space used for the ADU is not used as livable space; no more than two detached ADUs on a lot that has an existing multifamily dwelling, if each detached ADU observes four-foot rear and side setbacks and does not exceed 800 square feet, according to the staff report.
The ADU ordinance removes the requirement for owner-occupancy for either the principal dwelling or the ADU until 2025. It also shortens the processing time from 120 to 60 days and removes the requirement for replacement parking for garage conversions, among other changes.
The new ordinance also includes a more detailed deed restriction requirement than the previous ordinance, which is aimed at ensuring property owners don’t take advantage of the ADU standards to circumvent development standards that would otherwise apply to their proposed development.
Several people spoke during public comment, with one person questioning whether the new ADU rules would encourage more short-term rentals or AirBnB type units throughout the city. City staff later clarified that ADUs cannot be rented for less than 30 days.
Goleta resident Kevin Barthel told the council that the new state laws are meant to have homeowners assist with the state’s housing crisis.
“I think they’re trying to allow us to provide affordable housing,” he said. “And this city has done everything it can to prevent that until the state law came along, then you start to conform to it. I’m not a fan of all the rules you had before, I’m a fan of the state allowing us homeowners to make a second unit.”
Mr. Barthel then questioned the height requirement in the city’s ADU ordinance, which states that the height of an attached ADU above a garage or above a portion of a principal dwelling may not exceed the height of the principal dwelling. He said the requirements are unfair for those who own a single-story home, but favor the owner’s of two-story homes.
Several members of the council were outspoken in the new state laws and were upset that city staff had put so much time and energy into its ADU regulations only to have the state change things without providing additional funding.
“It is disappointing that we spent so much time on this, and our constituents as well and staff, to see if kind of dismantled and lose the focus and direction that I thought we were going,” said Mayor Paula Perotte.
Councilman James Kyriaco said the state was trying to create “affordability by design” through the new laws, but said he was frustrated that a redevelopment bill was vetoed by Mr. Newsom last year. The bill would have provided a regular source of money the city could use to plan for affordable and workforce housing.
“There’s things we can do around the margin in terms of some of the things we’re doing with our new zoning ordinance… but we really need a willing partner in the state,” Mr. Kyriaco said.
Councilman Stuart Kasdin took things one step further. He acknowledged that ADUs off an opportunity to expand the housing stock without having a dramatic impact on the character of the neighborhood, but said the State Legislature “discarded any desire to have local government input.
“They really just focused on ‘we’re going to waive any responsibility or authority that local government may have and we’re going to approve all of these.’ Thanks state government,” Mr. Kasdin said. “Do they provide any additional revenue to go with it? No. The only solution that they had in mind, the only expectation that they had for the problem with housing, is that it’s local government’s fault. The only solution that the state can come up with is to remove our authority to make decision. I think that’s unfortunate.”
Despite the council’s objections, both the urgency and replacement ADU ordinances were adopted unanimously.
In other business Tuesday, the council voted 4-1 in favor of a resolution to amend the city’s general plan regarding streamside protections, with councilman Roger Aceves voting against the resolution.
The city is currently undertaking preparation of a Creek and Watershed Management Plan, which may be used to develop the wording of the revised policy, as well as the city’s Local Coastal Program from the California Coastal Commission. With the revision initiated, city staff will move ahead with analysis and evolution and return to the Planning Commission for consideration before returning to the council for final action.
In voting against the resolution, Mr. Aceves said the city’s general plan has worked thus far and wanted to hold off on any changes until the city receives the Creek and Watershed Management Plan or feedback from the Coastal Commission.
Mayor Pro Tempore Kyle Richards said the resolution will allow the council to create a stronger and clearer policy that residents will be able to understand better and give the city stronger protections.
Also on Tuesday, the council continued its public hearing regarding its new zoning ordinance. The hearing was ongoing as of deadline Tuesday night.