Encinitas releases free, permit-ready plans for granny flats

Encinitas releases free, permit-ready plans for granny flats
Design Path Studio created plans for building granny flats ranging in size from a studio to a three-bedroom as part of Encinitas’ Permit-Ready Accessory Dwelling Units Program. Architectural rendering of a one-bedroom unit by Design Path Studio

ENCINITAS — In an effort to ease housing pressures and increase the city’s stock of affordable rental units, Encinitas has launched the Permit-Ready Accessory Dwelling Units (PRADU) Program.

The program provides residents with free, ready-to-use architectural plans for building stand-alone accessory dwelling units — often referred to as granny flats and in-law units — on their properties.

The goal of PRADU is to speed up the permitting and construction process while reducing costs.

By doing so, the city hopes more residents will consider building accessory dwelling units in their backyards, thereby providing more affordable housing throughout Encinitas.

After years of struggling to comply with state housing laws as they pertain to supply and affordability, Encinitas is now under a court order to implement a housing plan in accordance with state law by April 11. By giving homeowners incentives, the city is trying to add another tool to the toolkit for meeting mandated housing quotas.

This is one of DZN Partners’ ready-to-use design plans for constructing a stand-alone additional dwelling unit on a homeowner’s property. The city of Encinitas will be providing these plans free of charge to residents wishing to build granny flats in their backyards. Architectural rendering by DZN Partners

During a presentation to City Council on Jan. 9, Encinitas Associate Planner Geoff Plagemann said, “The whole point of the program is to save homeowners money and time. We’re estimating three to six months of planning and design time that we’re eliminating from the process as well as consultant fees.”

Plagemann explained that by using pre-approved design plans, residents could save $8,000 to $14,000 in design fees, depending on the unit’s size. Those cost reductions — combined with ADU fee waivers of $2,000 to $4,000 that have been in place since February 2018 — lead to an upfront savings of $10,000 to $18,000.

The city contracted with two different Encinitas-based architectural firms, Design Path Studio and DZN Partners, to design the plans. Each firm received $16,000 for its services.

A total of eight complete building plans are available because each firm created designs for four unit types: a studio, a one-bedroom, a two-bedroom and a three-bedroom.

Yvonne St. Pierre of Design Path Studio told the council that she designed her plans to accommodate the needs of homeowners who may want to expand their properties in a cost-effective manner over time. “The four units can expand as time goes on and as your finances increase,” she said.

To convert the studio to a one-bedroom unit, for example, a builder would add a bedroom to the front of the home, while keeping the other expensive infrastructural elements intact.

The roofline would continue over the added bedroom, creating an outdoor patio space. The idea is to plug in new parts without needing to dismantle the old ones.

St. Pierre’s overall vision is one of “owner- and builder-friendly construction,” she explained. To allow for a good exterior match between the existing home and the new additional dwelling unit, St. Pierre’s plans provide multiple options for siding, stucco and stone.

Bart Smith of DZN Partners also sought to insert “as much latitude and choice as possible” into his designs, he said at the meeting. For instance, he provided floor plans as well as reverse floor plans for each unit type, three different elevations, five different roof materials and other design variations.

Homeowners could choose a stucco exterior with a tile roof, for instance, or what Smith called a coastal Craftsman with a four-sided gable and transom windows. Smith’s designs ranged in size from 224 square feet for the studio to 1,199 square feet for the three-bedroom unit.

The designs are aligned with the city’s newly adopted additional dwelling unit ordinances, which seek to ease restrictions on building standards in order to promote construction.

Featuring reduced setbacks, the waiving of parking requirements if the unit is located within a half mile of transit and other flexible building standards, the ordinances are considered one part of a multi-faceted approach to creating more additional dwelling units.

Encinitas calls this overall program “Housing for Generations.” It also includes new rules around junior accessory dwelling units, which are no larger 500 square feet and contained within an existing single-family residence.

The junior units must be part of an owner-occupied dwelling and have to provide an efficiency kitchen. Sanitation facilities may be shared.

In conjunction with more flexible dwelling-unit ordinances and the permit-ready plans, Encinitas has been attempting to promote the implementation of Senate Bill 1226, which was sponsored by Encinitas and became effective on Jan. 1. SB 1226 allows accessory dwelling units to be permitted based on the codes in effect at the time the units were built.

By not requiring an owner to bring the unit up to current code, which is often infeasible and prohibitively expensive, it is hoped that more homeowners will register their rentals, which in turn will increase the housing stock.

To inform the public about the permit-ready program and the new regulations for additional dwelling units, the city will host an “Everything ADU Workshop” on Jan. 22 from 6 to 8 p.m. at City Hall. Additionally, on Jan. 28 from 4 to 7 p.m., an “ADU Open House” will be held at the Encinitas Library.

At the open house, interested residents will have the chance to speak one-on-one with city officials about navigating the process of permitting and building accessory dwelling units.

A Housing for Generations catalog that includes how-to instructions on building ADUs as well as the pre-approved architectural plans is expected to be ready and available to the public by the beginning of February.

13 Comments
  1. Bill Cavanaugh 1 week ago

    Great looking design. Build them with prefabricated construction to minimize the disruption to neighborhood and save time.

  2. Steveinsandiego 1 week ago

    Any parking requirements? Imagine a detached grannyflat for inlaws who owns two cars. Where will they park? My previous house was on a cul-de-sac, where the street was always full of parked cars before accessory units were an idea.

    • Author
      Carey Blakely 5 days ago

      There are some parking requirements that you can see at http://www.encinitasca.gov/adu. The table shown there states the following:

      “One parking space for newly constructed units unless the unit is:

      Within ½ mile of ‘public transit’ (train station and all bus stops)
      Created within the area of an existing structure
      In a historic district”

      On that page, you can also click the link for “ADU Ordinance No. 2018-01” and scroll to section 15 to see all the parking requirements. You are right that there could very easily be a situation in which the occupants of the ADU own two or more cars. It does not appear that the city has taken specific measures to mitigate against a scenario like that, but I will ask for more information the next time I report on this topic. Thanks for your interest and comments!

  3. Steveinsandiego 1 week ago

    What about parking? My previous house sits in a cul de sac. Many cars were always parked in the street. Granny flats will bring more vehicles to the neighborhood. Where will new residents park?

  4. Sam Goodwin 1 week ago

    This is great news! Finally a proactive approach on how to ease the housing pressure.

  5. WF 1 week ago

    Great step for housing

    Where can we find more info on City website?

    Would be helpful.

  6. John. Fox 1 week ago

    PLEASE we must ban together and dump trump. He’s a total disgrace to the UNITED STATES.

  7. jonathan e wickham 1 week ago

    why does sacramento get to tell us how many people we need to squeeze into encinitas? why does someone who doesn’t live on my street get to waive codes, like making sure there’s enough parking spaces, or how tall a building can be? why don’t our elected representatives work for our quality of life?

  8. John Arendsen 1 week ago

    John DL Arendsen There are also other even more affordable options to consider like Manufactured Crest ‘Backyard’ Homes. We are located in Leucadia and have 5 models we would love to show anyone who is interested in an ADU. We are general and manufactured home contractors and can do ground up design build and/or manufactured. If you choose one of the City’s PRADU designs we would be happy to build it for you. We will be attending the workshop and open house planned later this month. Feel free to call me anytime. 760 815-6977.

  9. Dat Cajun 7 days ago

    Great. So now after 2 decades of saving, working hard at 2 jobs and adhering to a tight budget to enable my family to have a home in Encinitas, Sacramento gets to put housing into my neighborhood for people who cannot afford to live there. Will this ever happen in Rancho Santa Fe? We need less housing in this town, not more. Bigger lots and less density. All these ugly 2 and 3 story condo and apt complexes suck. Not to mention no more housing should be built in San Diego county until we have a state wide grey water law passed and we find more water thru desalination plants. We cannot keep living off the limited water from the Colorado river. Boooooo

  10. John Arendsen 5 days ago

    FYI Dat Dajun, there are a lot of folks in RSF, Fairbanks Ranch, Olivehein, Del Mar, La Jolla and every other high end neighborhood who are adding BACKYARD HOMES to their property. Those folks who can’t afford to live here are your kids school teachers, the folks who provide you with emergency services when you need them, who deliver your mail and who bag your groceries. Do they not have a right to live in the neighborhoods they service? Or is that just for folks who are fortunate enough to own their own homes?

  11. John Arendsen 5 days ago

    For those folks who would like to know more about BACKYARD HOMES aka Accessory Dwelling Units (ADU) you may want to down load the ‘BACKYARD HOME GUIDE’ Everything You Need To Know About Building An Accessory Dwelling Unit. Just go to http://www.crestbackyardhomes.com and look for the red tab on the side of every page, click on it, fill out the form and payment information. The Guide is normally $19.95 but is available for all San Diego property/homeowners for $14.95.

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