VISTA — Accessory dwelling units are quickly becoming a way for cities to meet their housing stock.
Recent legislation passed by the state, thanks to the city of Encinitas, has made it easier for residents to build ADUs, or granny flats. Cities are also parlaying the new law to add ADUs under their affordable housing requirements.
In Vista, the City Council addressed ADUs and associated fees during its April 9 meeting. The council directed staff to return with a more detailed report on impact fees and square footage, to name a few.
“The ADU cannot exceed the size of a primary residence,” Conley said.
The units are allowed on lots with developed single-family homes and cannot be sold separately. Currently in Vista, ADUs can be up to 1,000 square feet, although the size depends on the size of the property and zoning designations, Conley said.
Constructing an ADU will cost $18,464.42 in city fees, which includes about $14,000 in impact fees, and does not include building costs. Several residents spoke about the high fees, which are in addition to other state-mandated costs such as soil tests and storm water and grading plans.
The state does not require development impact fees for ADUs.
Resident Michael Upton said he and his wife are building an ADU, but just to get started it cost about $37,000 to acquire the plans plus impact fees.
The council was mostly in favor of waiving impact fees for affordable units. But, they were split on whether to reduce those fees on market-rate units by 50%.
Mayor Julie Ritter and Councilwoman Amanda Rigby did not favor the cut to market rate fees, saying those who move in will also be using city services such as roads, emergency services, parks and other amenities.
“I’m not a fan of that,” Rigby said. “No matter who is living there, they are still impacting the city. I think the fees need to be paid up so it can go back to helping the community.”
“I think for market-rate … I don’t think we should waive those,” Ritter added.
The council, though, directed staff to research allowing units to be up to 1,200 square feet, depending on the size of the lot. According to city code, 60% of the lot must remain open, which means living spaces can only cover 40% of the land.
Additionally, the council also went back and forth between allowing homes in the R-1-B zoning designation to include ADUs. Those lots are up to 6,000 square feet.
Ritter and Rigby said they are too small and dense, and allowing an ADU may negatively impact those neighborhoods, which were not designed to add more residences.
Councilman Joe Green, though, said he was in favor for the R-1-B units as it allows those residents the same opportunity as others. In addition, he also favored a 50% reduction in market-rate fees and no fees for affordable units.