Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) - Second Homes on Single Family Lots

Update on Accessory Dwelling Unit Ordinance - October 2017

Belmont Heights residents spoke at City Council on October 10th seeking to reduce the size of Accessory Dwelling Units allowed on our R-1 lots. City staff had originally proposed a maximum 1,200’ sq. size to meet this state  mandate; we heard from our residents that this size was too big and took away too much open space. After much discussion, the BHCA Board’s position was two-fold and simple: reduce the maximum size to 800’ sq. and  increase the open space accompanying a new unit from 25% to 30%.

Throughout the summer we discussed this ordinance with Councilwoman Suzie Price; we also had personal conversations with the other councilpersons, seeking to understand their district needs. They had similar concerns. The result? Councilwoman Price moved to amend the ordinance with the above restrictions, and CD2 Councilwoman Pearce immediately seconded. The vote was unanimous.

The BHCA Board thanks our Councilwoman and staff for walking this walk with us while formulating her recommendation. We thank our residents who sent letters and spoke at council, and our city leaders for seeking a middle ground that provides reasonable housing for extended family needs.

Background on ADUs

In an effort to increase housing stock in California, Governor Brown signed into law two bills allowing second homes to be built on single family zoned lots. How does this affect Long Beach, and Belmont Heights? Basically, it means it will be easier to build a second unit on lots over 4,800’ sq.
The City seeks to mitigate some of the more impactful aspects of the State mandate by using local zoning such as set-backs, open space, and size limitations on these second units. The BHCA spoke at the two Planning Commission hearings (in June and July), updated residents via our meetings and e-blasts, and sought advice from staff and Councilwoman Suzie Price. 
Our recommendations for smaller units, more open space and enforcement processes were offered to the Planning Commission. The Commission chose to amend the draft Ordinance, reducing the maximum size of an ADU from 1,200’ sq. to 1,000’ sq.

Briefly, on July 6, 2017, the Planning Commission moved forward staff’s recommendation for allowing ADUs within the following confines:

  • ADUs can be 50% of the gross floor area of the primary dwelling, or 1,000’ sq., whichever is less
  • Open space requirements, set backs, distance between units, etc. apply
  • Unless located in a parking impacted area or in the coastal zone, no additional parking will be required for the new dwelling
  • The proposed Ordinance states that the owner of the property must live on-site, or both units must be rented to the same tenant/family. The lots/units cannot be sold separately, or used for short-term rentals.

The ordinance will be going to City Council for consideration on October 10, 2017. Your Councilmember (and the BHCA Board) wants to hear from you ahead of this, so please share your own thoughts. You can reach the Councilwoman at [email protected] | 570-6300. You can cc us at [email protected] | 285-3860.

City documents pertaining to this matter can be found by clicking on this link to the Planning Commission July 6, 2017 meeting

After consultation with residents and the Board, on July 31, 2017 the BHCA sent a letter to our 3rd District Councilwoman asking for a reduction in the size of ADUs to 800 sq ft or 50% of the gross floor area of the primary building, whichever is less. In addition, we are asking for an increase in required open space from 25% to 30%. The letter can be reviewed here.

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