The Carpinteria California City Council recently held meetings to address the intersection of coastal and environmental protections and regulations and the need for higher density housing to accommodate growth especially as stimulated by recent state legislation making it easier to build ADUs. Following is an Op-Ed by community leader Jim Taylor of the Carpinteria Valley Association in support of ADU growth in Carpinteria.
The ADU permit process that (local municipal– ed) staff is hopefully about to define should reflect State and Coastal Commission policy by eliminating the need for Architectural Review Board approvals, issuing permits quickly, removing requirements for separate utility hookups, restricting permit fees to the actual costs incurred by the city, minimizing setbacks to fire safety limits, and relaxing parking requirements.
Accessory Dwelling Units are a solution that is based on in-fill within existing neighborhoods. Since they are located in the back yards of single-family dwellings, they are practically invisible. Local housing and economic growth is dependent on integration the new legislation without conflicting with California Coastal Commission protections and regulations.
Moving forward with compliance with State laws and Coastal Commission policy regarding ADUs is in keeping with Carpinteria’s goals. Carpinteria’s Housing Element, a document that guides our City’s housing development as an extension of our General Plan, includes the following goal:
“Since second units can be accommodated on developed sites at no additional land cost, they represent an excellent option for addressing the needs of seniors, university students, household employees, local service workers and extended family members.”
The plan recognizes, as we do, that real estate values and construction costs, along with a lack of available land, are exacerbating the availability and affordability of housing. These conditions are creating employee recruitment and retention challenges for employers and financial challenges for those trying to find housing near work.
ADUs are also cited as an Economic Vitality Goal in the 2019 Carpinteria Work Plan:
“Second units represent an important source of affordable housing in cities with high housing costs. An improved balance of jobs and housing in the community with housing types available to those with varied household incomes, especially aiming to improve the availability of low and moderate income housing that meets the needs of the local workforce.”
Some cities, such as Encinitas, have also worked with local architects to develop free permit-ready architectural plans, which streamlines the process for both homeowners and city staff.
And from the CCC’s most recent guidance memo, on November 20, 2017:
“Although Government Code Section 65852.2(j) states that it does not supersede or lessen the application of the Coastal Act, it would be a mistake for local governments to interpret this as a signal that they can simply disregard the new law in the coastal zone … Therefore, the Commission reiterates its previous recommendation that local governments amend their LCPs accordingly, using Section 65852.2 as a blueprint…”
It is not clear when the California Coastal Commission (CCC) will go beyond “recommending” that their cities go along with the new laws, but based on the following paragraph in Chapter 1 of the California Coastal Act of 1976, we can see where this is headed:
“Nothing in this (act) shall exempt local governments from meeting the requirements of state and federal law with respect to providing low- and moderate-income housing, replacement housing, relocation benefits, or any other obligation related to housing imposed by existing law or any law hereafter enacted.”
My hope is that our town can find a way to accommodate both the new State laws and the need to protect our sensitive coastal environment.