Thank you for joining the Planning Commission for the Accessory Dwelling Unit Study Session on October 7, 2019.
Community Development Staff is currently working on addressing the comments received and will return to the Planning Commission with a draft ordinance within the next few months. Stay tuned!
Photo by: Second Unit Center
What is an Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU)?
ADUs (Accessory Dwelling Units), also known as granny flats or in-law units, provide independent living quarters for one household with full facilities for sleeping, eating, cooking, and sanitation on the same lot as the primary single-family dwelling. The ADU may be attached, detached, or located within the living areas of the primary dwelling unit on the lot.
Examples of ADUs include:
- Detached: The ADU structure is detached from the primary dwelling unit
- Attached: The ADU structure is attached to the primary dwelling unit
- Converted: The ADU within the existing primary dwelling unit or the ADU was established through conversion of an accessory structure (i.e. garage or pool house)
- ADUs can provide a source of income for homeowners
- ADUs give homeowners the flexibility to create a home to share with family members and others, allowing seniors to age in place as they require more care
- ADUs are a different form of housing that can help San Carlos meet its diverse housing needs
- ADUs are a critical form of infill-development that can be affordable and offer additional housing opportunities within existing neighborhoods
- ADUs are an affordable type of home to construct because they do not require paying for land, major new infrastructure, structured parking, or elevators.
Reason for the ADU Update:
In response to the Bay Area’s regional housing shortages, Governor Brown signed new laws (SB 1069 and AB 2299) from 2016 to 2018 to encourage the construction of more ADUs by reducing the regulatory barriers commonly found in local zoning ordinances. To comply with the updated state policies, the City of San Carlos is undergoing a process of updating its local ADU Ordinance (currently titled Second Dwelling Unit in the City’s municipal code).
Study Session Details:
The City would like to thank the residents and community stakeholders of San Carlos who participated in the ADU Planning Commission Study Session on Monday, October 7, 2019 at 7 p.m. in the City Hall Council Chambers, 600 Elm St., San Carlos.
Some of the topics discussed at the ADU Planning Commission Study Session included maximum floor area for attached and detached ADUs, height requirements and parking. The study session functioned as an open dialogue between the staff, Planning Commissioners, and residents where best practices and policy recommendations were discussed. Staff is processing the feedback and will come back at a later date with recommendations so no formal decision was made during the study session on October 7. Once the Planning Commission develops ADU recommendations, City Council will be the final review authority for the ADU Ordinance.
There will be additional Planning Commission meetings in November so please continue checking the City website for more information or contact the Planning Division at 650-802-4263.
Summary of New State Requirements:
- Additional parking for the ADU is not required at all if the ADU:
- Is within a half mile from public transit.
- Is within an architecturally and historically significant historic district.
- Is part of an existing primary residence or an existing accessory structure.
- Is in an area where on-street parking permits are required, but not offered to the occupant of the ADU.
- Is located within one block of a car share area.
- If none of the 5 criteria above are met, and the City elects to require parking for the ADU, then a maximum of one parking space per ADU can be required per State law.
- An ADU parking space may be in a tandem configuration and/or located in setback areas on the same lot
ADUs shall not be considered new residential uses for the purpose of calculating utility connection fees or capacity charges, including water and sewer service
Fire sprinklers shall not be required in an accessory unit if they are not required in the primary residence.
- Local government must ministerially approve an application to create within a single family residential zone one ADU per single family lot if the unit is:
- contained within an existing residence or accessory structure.
- has independent exterior access from the existing residence.
- has side and rear setbacks that are sufficient for fire safety.
- These provisions apply within all single-family residential zones and ADUs within existing space must be allowed in all of these zones. No additional parking or other development standards can be applied except for building code requirements.
Local government must ministerially approve ADUs if the unit complies with certain parking requirements, the maximum allowable size of an attached ADU, and setback requirements, as follows:
- The unit is not intended for sale separate from the primary residence and may be rented.
- The lot is zoned for single-family or multifamily use and contains an existing, single-family dwelling.
- The unit is either attached to an existing dwelling or located within the living area of the existing dwelling or detached and on the same lot.
- The increased floor area of the unit does not exceed 50% of the existing living area, with a maximum increase in floor area of 1,200 square feet.
- The total area of floor space for a detached accessory dwelling unit does not exceed 1,200 square feet.
- No passageway can be required.
- No setback can be required from an existing garage that is converted to an ADU.
- Compliance with local building code requirements.
- Approval by the local health officer where private sewage disposal system is being used.
As of January 1, 2019, homeowners who created ADUs without the required building permits have the opportunity to bring their ADUs into compliance. For ADUs that were constructed without building permits, local building officials can determine the date of construction of the ADU, apply the building standards in effect at that date of construction, and issue a retroactive building permit.