Letter: Regarding ADU Reporting

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The new Accessory Dwelling Unit ordinance balances complying with the state mandate and preserving all that is special about Laguna Beach. As the vice chair of the ADU Subcommittee of the Housing and Human Services Committee, and immediate past president of Laguna Beach Seniors, I would like to add my comments and clarify a few points in Lou Ponsi’s reporting on the contents of the ordinance.

The Laguna Beach Housing and Human Services Committee supports the ADU ordinance that city council approved on Nov. 16. Creation of ADUs offers an opportunity for seniors to age in place; house on-site caregivers; house extended family members; create accessible single-level housing; and earn extra income. ADUs also provide, smaller, lower cost, housing within the community. With the legalization of ADUs, it is expected that the hundreds of “illegal” conversions in Laguna Beach, will seek to become “legal”.

Providing a parking space is required if the ADU is located more than half mile from a “public transit” stop if the ADU is a new addition or separate stand-alone building. Conversion of existing space to an ADU does not require an added parking spot. Garage “conversions” do not require an added parking space.

With the discontinuation of the City’s extended trolley systems, much of the community is not within the half mile walking distance of a transit stop which qualifies for a parking exemption.  The council, recognizing that the elimination of the trolley services had an impact on areas which the trolleys had served and where there are some areas where on street parking is not a problem, added a waiver provision that allowed consideration of not requiring onsite parking for new ADU projects when there is significant on-street parking available.

On the issue of views, the state law limits how “view issues” can be addressed.

All criteria must be objective. The Planning Commission recommended that the state mandated 16-foot height limit would minimize any view issues, while meeting the state’s “objective” requirement.

All city fees will be refunded for ADUs that commit to charge “affordable” rents, or ADUs that are ADA compliant. The housing committee recommends that the council waive all fees for 2022, to encourage ADU development.

I believe the ordinance is fair, sensible, and complies with the state mandate.

Cody Engle, Laguna Beach

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