On Dec. 5, the San Diego County Planning Commission is scheduled to hear proposed amendments to the zoning regulations that address accessory dwelling units.
The county’s Zoning Ordinance now defines four types of accessory dwellings: second dwelling units, accessory apartments, accessory living quarters, and guest living quarters. The proposed revisions would consolidate those categories into second dwelling units and guest living quarters, and limitations on those uses are proposed.
When commissioners discussed the proposed changes this month, Planning Commissioner Michael Beck asked for a continuance.
“I’m not comfortable that I understand the implications,” he said.
The revisions, if approved by the San Diego County Board of Supervisors, are intended to simplify and streamline the regulations, according to a county report. The proposed changes include reducing the requirement for a second dwelling unit from a minor use permit to an administrative permit. Both permits allow for public review but a minor use permit request is automatically heard by the county’s zoning administrator while a hearing for an administrative permit takes place only if requested by a member of the public.
The changes would also allow a second dwelling unit on a legal lot of at least one acre but that does not meet the minimum net area for the zoning. Proposed changes to the ordinance section regarding guest living quarters modify maximum sizes and eliminate a footage allowance for a “wet bar,” a small sink and running water.
Current regulations for second dwelling units require that the owner occupy one of the units, an allowance by right on certain lots and with a minor use permit when specific criteria are met, and a restriction to lots meeting minimum net size. A second dwelling unit may be attached to or detached from the main building and may also be attached to an agricultural storage building, but it cannot be attached to any other habitable structures.
The changes would require an administrative permit rather than a minor use permit.
All property owners within 300 feet of the property would have to be notified, and, if a legal lot is at least one acre but does not meet the minimum net area for zoning, a second dwelling unit would be allowed with an administrative permit.
No changes are proposed for size, design, required parking, or limitations on the size of attached garages. A second dwelling unit is allowed to have all of the accommodations of the primary structure, including kitchen and laundry facilities.
Guest living quarters are designed for temporary use by guests or persons employed on the premises. No kitchen or laundry facilities are allowed, but a wet bar is currently permitted. The guest living quarters may not be rented and are limited to 25 percent of the size of the main dwelling unit or 600 square feet, whichever is greater.
Guest living quarters are allowed by right in areas with certain residential, agricultural, and special use zoning and on lots of at least one-half acre in certain residential areas. If the lot is less than half an acre, guest living quarters are permitted in certain residential and special purpose areas with an administrative permit.
Guest living quarters are not permitted on lots of less than 10,000 square feet.
The proposed changes would allow guest living quarters in all residential and agricultural areas by right on lots of at least 20,000 square feet and with an administrative permit for lots less than 20,000 square feet.
The size for guest living quarters allowed by right would be changed to no more than 30 percent of the size of the main dwelling unit up to a maximum of 600 square feet, while an administrative permit would allow a unit of up to 50 percent of the size of the main dwelling if required findings are made.
The allowance for wet bars would be eliminated. The changes also add a stipulation that individual guests may be accommodated for no more than 30 calendar days in any calendar year.
Accessory apartments are known as “granny flats,” and regulations require that they be attached to the main building. The current Zoning Ordinance requires an administrative permit in certain residential, agricultural, and special purpose zones, and no minimum lot size is stipulated.
Accessory apartments are designed for occupancy by elderly, handicapped, or family members of an occupant of the main dwelling. Because a change in state law prohibits the restriction of such units’ occupancy by seniors, the restriction thus must be removed from the county ordinance. The section on second dwelling units will cover what have been defined as accessory apartments.
Accessory living quarters are designed for occupancy by persons employed on the premises. They are allowed only in areas with rural residential zoning, may not be rented, and must meet the density regulations, and an administrative permit is required.
The second dwelling unit and guest living quarters provisions will accommodate such units if their designation is eliminated from the Zoning Ordinance.