PlanCheckNC December Meeting Report

Minutes: Dec. 4, 2016
Chair: Cindy Cleghorn – CindyCleghorn@Mac.com
Announcements:
Planning Dept. external relations staff (NCs, CDs, Plan Comm): Yeghig Keshishian (213) 978-1324 Yeghig.Keshishian@LACity.org

Accessory Dwelling Units: Presentation
Matthew Glesne, Planning Dept.-Housing Unit (213) 978-2666 Matthew.Glesne@LACity.org

History
Original State Law in 1982, revised in 2003 to force cities to enact their own laws. Most ignored, so a revised State Law takes effect in Jan. 2017. Goal is to increase housing via a fast, by-right process.
§  Cities are allowed to reduce maximum size (State’s maximum size is 1,200 sf).
§  Eliminated 10-ft. separation between buildings (Fire no longer requires).
§  No parking required if within 0.5 miles of transit stop or in historic district.
§  Cities cannot create restrictions for only ADUs, all restrictions must be citywide in the zoning code.

City proposal
Previous City ordinance was illegal because it required a discretionary approval CUP (State requires a by-right permit).
604 ADUs permitted since 2000, and only 400 issued Certificates of Occupancy (mainly in the San Fernando Valley, which has larger lots).
City is expediting review to have its own ordinance in place at that time (so City does not have to default to State Law). ADUs will be by-right in Coastal Zone.
Plan Comm hearing on Dec. 15 (CPC-2016-4345-CA).

§  For new construction, City proposes maximum size of the larger of 640 sf or 50% of size of main house (which could increase to 1,500 sf?).
§  Subject to FAR limits (including Reduced Floor Area overlay zones). Future R1 zones will limit height and FAR, but some community plans will not be updated with these reduced zones for 10 years.
§  For conversions of existing ADUs, there are fewer restrictions (non-conforming setbacks can be grandfathered in, uncovered parking allowed for garage conversion). A new addition on top of a garage must comply with current setbacks.
§  No front yard parking (citywide ordinance).
§  Trailer or manufactured house on foundation allowed (350 sf maximum size).
§  If convert garage, new parking can be any configuration (tandem, uncovered).
§  ADUs cannot be rented as short-term rentals (AirBNB).
§  New construction of ADUs banned in Hillside, but conversions of existing ADUs will be allowed (Planning’s 2008 Hillside map, which is smaller area than BOE’s).
§  Goal is for ADUs to fit into the neighborhood, not overwhelm them, and numerous small ADUs may be less intrusive than large, blocky apartment buildings. Goal is to locate in urban areas near transportation and jobs.
§  Estimated 50,000 illegal ADUs in city.

Definition: ADU
1.    Kitchen is required (it’s not a guest house, which has no kitchen).
2.    Must be the 2nd structure constructed on the site (not the 1st structure).
3.    Attached or detached.
4.    Allowed in any zone.

Analysis/comments:
1.    Reverse corner front yards (the long side of a corner lot is considered a side yard but is actually a long frontage along the public right-of-way and completely visible to neighbors): Parking should be prohibited (extra tall 6-8-ft. walls are already banned, so precedent exists to ban parking).
2.    Some like ADUs so they can rent them to increase personal income. In general, personal financial gain is not a justification for public policy with impacts on the greater community.
3.    R1 zones allow 3-story buildings, so ADUs are built at 3-story height and 1,200 sf with 3 bedrooms, and can house a full family. Investors are buying R1 lots, building 2 houses of 1,200 sf and renting to 2 families. This changes R1 neighborhoods to R2 duplex neighborhoods, which is not the intent of ADUs. A strict limit of 640 sf maximum size will guarantee the intent of ADUs to provide housing for 1-2 persons, not an extra full family.
4.    Concern that ADUs will be used for short-term rentals.
5.    Concern that owners will rent to a 2nd household. Maybe ADUs should be restricted to occupancy by a member of the primary household.
6.    Concern that insufficient transportation, parks, school, and utility infrastructure (City has not updated its infrastructure plan in decade). Some ADU tenants may already live in the area, so may not increase population.
7.    Will City allow tiny houses (on wheels)?
8.    Will City allow ADU in front yard if old house built at back of lot and front yard is unused?
9.    Limit height to 1 level for new construction or 2 levels if addition/conversion of garage, because community plans will not be updated for 1- years, and won’t get new R1 zones in near future to protect neighborhood character.
10. Concern that ADUs will be rented for commercial use (office, retail). Only limited office use by occupant is allowed.
11. DBS must increase code enforcement inspectors/budget.
12. Extra big ADUs are grandfathered in, even if exceed a 640 sf maximum size.
13. Site with 2 units (main house built prior to 1978 and new ADU) qualify as RSO sites with relocation payments, per Ellis Act and LAHD.

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