David Mendez

Redondo approves new ‘Granny flat’ laws

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Redondo’s new Additional Dwelling Unit ordinance would prevent the development of over-garage “granny flats,” as seen here. Photo courtesy AccessoryDwellings.org

by David Mendez

The Redondo Beach City Council approved a pair of ordinances on Additional Dwelling Units, issuing tighter restrictions than existing state law on where and how so-called “Granny Flats” can be locally built.

Redondo’s new laws — drawn for both the city’s coastal and inland zones — sets minimum lot size restrictions for construction — lots in R-1 zones must be greater than 6,000 square feet; R-2 lots must be bigger than 5,000 square feet — and 600 square foot maximum size limits for detached ADUs. Attached ADUs are allowed to max out at the smaller of 600 square feet, or 50 percent of the living area of the existing residence, and builders can only construct one ADU on their property.

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The city’s ordinance also requires owner-occupancy on one of the units, aimed at preventing absentee landlords leaving their property to multiple renters to handle.

New ADUs also must be one-story units, and may not be built above garages, as originally approved by the Redondo Beach Planning Commission. One parking space must also be allowed for each ADU.

The ordinance approved by the City Council largely mirrors the law tinkered with by Redondo’s Planning Commission over three meetings last fall. That body eventually came to a consensus that left many of the residents in attendance happy at their November meeting.

The City Council’s job, then, was to once again examine the issue, but the discussion also allowed Mayor Bill Brand to once again present his stance against the state Legislature.

State lawmakers passed revised ADU rules as part of a plan to respond to the state housing shortage. This, Brand said, was an example of state law being applied in a “one size fits all” approach to all jurisdictions.

“We’re a very dense community, denser than Long Beach and most cities in California by far,” Brand said, before listing off the city’s “incredibly diverse mix of housing.” Redondo is estimated at 67,908 residents as of 2017, for an approximate population density of 10,952 residents per square mile.

“There’s a war setting up between local communities and the state — the governor is taking a position, suing Huntington Beach and getting ready to sue other cities,” Brand said.

Governor Gavin Newsom backed the lawsuit against Huntington as a way to force it to plan for more affordable housing. He further promised in a press release announcing the lawsuit that cities that are refusing to plan for more housing will be “held to account.”

Redondo may have earned some credit toward staving off a lawsuit in approving housing development on the South Bay Galleria site, including 300 apartment units, with some set aside for affordable housing.

But some residents were aghast at the number of ADUs the new regulations would allow being built; according to a city staff report, 3,096 residential lots will be eligible to build ADUs across both inland and in the coastal zone.

“If anything, real estate ads are going to lead with minimizing your mortgage by building another unit on the back,” said resident Jess Money. “Reject this by vote or veto.”

The Council didn’t acquiesce to Money’s request, though it listened to other resident requests to disallow second-level ADU construction above garages.

Councilman Todd Loewenstein also attempted to impose Quimby fees — $25,000 per-unit fees intended for park improvement — on ADU development. However, state and local laws only allow for Quimby fee collection to be taken as conditions of approving tentative parcel maps, or parcel subdivision maps.

In a separate motion, the City also allowed residents who have applied for ADUs to be grandfathered in before Tuesday’s ordinance. As of Feb. 19, permits for 37 units had been filed.

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