Port Hueneme–The City Council, Monday, December 19, introduced and amended section 10802 of Chapter 6 of Article 10 in the Port Hueneme Municipal Code for Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) development standards.
ADUs are otherwise known as Granny Flats, Casitas, and Second Dwelling Units, which can be detached, attached, or within a second residence as a Junior ADU.
“The State Government Code has established certain development standards to use,” Community Development Director
Tony Stewart said. “When we went through this about two years ago to establish the current ADU Ordinance, we discussed that State Law has basically preempted most local law when it comes to the construction of ADUs with regards to parking setbacks, density, building, and building heights.”
He said they constantly change regulations, and the Council must address the new regulations in the ordinance.
“It’s important for us to have our own ADU regulations because it at least allows us locally to provide a maximum ADU size,” he said. “It also allows us in the City of Port Hueneme to require an Affordable Housing Agreement with ADUs.
Stewart said there are exceptions for caregivers or family members.
“State law does continue to whittle away at our local zoning authority,” he said.
“This is part of our newly adopted housing element for our general plan, and HCD is the State Agency that approved our housing element,” he continued. “It keeps track of our ADU Ordinance and how we comply with that.”
This year’s changes increase the maximum height of a detached ADU from 16 feet, the rest of the City’s maximum height limits, to 18 feet.
“Then for attached ADUs, they can be up 25 feet and two stories in height, whether or not the primary dwelling unit is that high or not,” he said.
Stewart said the State deleted the minimum lot size requirement for ADUs.
“This is the one we lost,” he said. “Previously, we had been required to allow ADUs on any size lot if it was under the State’s 800 square foot threshold for the size of the ADU. It now applies to all ADUs across the board, so we can no longer require a minimum lot size.”
He said it clarifies that building codes harmful to public health can be required to be corrected.
“If a building violation or a zoning issue that makes the property non-conforming exists, we still have to allow the ADU to be built,” he said. “It’s only at the house where the primary residence is falling apart if it’s been burned where there is a public health and safety risk that has to be fixed. Otherwise, we have to allow the ADU to be constructed.”
The ADUs must be approved ministerially (over the counter), which is what the City currently does.
“It also states if we have design standards or if a jurisdiction, such as the City of Port Hueneme, we have to make sure our approvals are objective,” he said. “Our design standards require that the ADU match the primary residence in architectural design for the State’s considered objective. We just have to make sure that’s specified in our ordinance.”
He said the City must remove the fact that a garage or carport is converted into an ADU; they cannot require its replacement.
“In the past, if someone converted the garage, they would have been required to build a new one unless they were in close proximity to public transportation,” he said. “That’s no longer the case.”
Stewart said if a qualified non-profit constructs an ADU, they can sell it separately from the primary residence.
“That is under certain specific requirements, and that probably won’t happen very often in the City of Port Hueneme, but we still need to clarify that in the ordinance,” he said. “We had previously also required that ADU kitchens be a certain size, and they had certain sized appliances. We can no longer do that.”
He said if an ADU application is denied, and it’s hard to deny them, the City must provide a full list of why the application was deficient and how the issues can be remedied within the required 60-day timeframe.
“The project is exempt from CEQA because it exempts projects where it can be seen with certainty there can be no possibility that the activity in question will have a significant impact on the environment,” he said.
Councilman Steven Gama said Ventura County shut down the City’s Little League snack bar, and he asked if there is uniformity between ADU kitchens.”
“They’re laying on us pretty heavy down at Bubbling Springs Park,” he said.
Stewart said ADU standards are a unique animal and permissive.
“They’ve taken away our local land use authority, but it’s only applicable to ADUs,” he said.
Gama commented that the County has more stringent rules for the snack bar than what the State mandates for ADU kitchens.
Councilwoman Misty Perez asked if there is a requirement to be a certain amount of feet from a fence line.
“It depends,” Stewart said. “They are minimized at this point, and if it’s detached, it would be four feet from the side of your property lines. If it’s going above an existing property line, it can be at the property line as well.”
Councilwoman Laura Hernandez asked Stewart if he received an inquiry from Joan Tharpe regarding age limits in demographic categories as they apply to ADUs. She asked him to provide his response.
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