Carlsbad passes new accessory dwelling ordinance

CARLSBAD — Accessory dwelling units are now regulated to some new standards after a unanimous vote by the City Council on Sept. 26.

Accessory dwelling units, as defined by the city, are livable structures on properties not sharing a common wall with the main dwelling, unless permitted, and are consistent with the general plan. Permits are required for units developed in and out of the coastal zone.

The city ordinance is a result of a state law enacted on Jan. 1 and local agencies must follow it until their ordinances are adopted. Cory Funk, of the community and economic development department, said during the Sept. 12 City Council meeting that the state’s purpose is to provide more affordable housing by easing accessory unit restrictions.

However, accessory dwellings constructed above detached garages are not subject to the one story, 14-foot height limitation.

Existing garages, though, were a concern for Mayor Matt Hall and Councilman Mark Packard, who noted converting a garage into a unit may have some unintended results.

Parking, for example, would require a two-car garage converted to a unit to move parking in front of the former garage.

“I just want to make sure that we aren’t going to be adding ADUs that are going to put additional parking burdens and spill over into other people’s property or neighborhoods,” Packard said. “We’ve had some issues in the past.”

Carlsbad resident Brian Connor opposed the ordinance as he questioned the garages and the associated parking as codes already exist.

“I don’t think it’s a proper way to move forward in the objective to provide more housing,” he said. “I think it’s shortcutting the planning process. It’s obvious that the cars are going to end up on the street. I don’t see the logic.”

The Carlsbad ordinance also states dwellings cannot exceed one story with a maximum height of 14 feet and roof pitch of 3:12, or 10 feet if less than a 3:12 roof pitch is provided. They must also be at least 10 feet from the main structure and cannot be more than 640 square feet.

“The rationale for that is we’ve had a good track record,” Funk said during his presentation at the Sept. 12 meeting.

“We looked at other affordable units and the average size is just under 700 square feet. Smaller housing (is) generally more affordable.”

Units already in the works larger than 640 square feet will be permitted, but new applications to the city must meet the new requirements.

Roof decks are also not permitted for ADUs and parking is required (with some exemptions), although a pathway from the street to the unit is not mandatory.

Non-dwelling structures, such as garages, workshops and tool sheds, cannot be more than 440 square feet with a front yard setback of 20 feet and a rear yard and alley setback of 5 feet.

The sale of an ADU must be included with the primary residence unless the property is subdivided.

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