After much discussion, the Long Beach City Council adopted new guidelines for “granny flats” that impacts their size, location, and open space requirements.
Also known as Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs), they will now be limited to a maximum size of 800 square feet or 50% of the primary existing home, whichever is smaller. Additionally homeowners who decide to add an ADU must maintain at least 30% percent of the lot as open space, which can be either paved or landscaped. And parking must be replaced or provided in parking impacted areas. In order to add an ADU, the minimum lot size is 5,200, which means about 70% of the city’s single lots are eligible. The lot size requirement eliminates ADU construction in areas like Belmont Shore, Naples, and Belmont Park, where most lot sizes are well below the 5,200 sq. ft. minimum.
The city’s decision came about 10 months after the state passed bills that streamlined the approval process for building granny flats. The bills were aimed at helping provide much-needed housing across the state. Without adopting a local ordinance, Long Beach would have had to follow the state guidelines, which allow construction of units up to 1200 sq. ft.
The state guidelines prohibit cities from requiring parking restrictions for homeowners who build ADUs if their homes are located within a half mile of a transit stop, which is basically almost every home in the city. However, the legislation does allow cities to require parking in areas that are designated as impacted (such as the area stretching along the coast from Long Beach to Belmont Shore).
For those in the coastal zone or parking impacted areas, an ADU of 640 sq. ft. or less requires one parking space and anything over 640 sq. ft. requires two parking spaces. Additionally, in order to build an ADU, the owner must live on the property and the ADU cannot be sold separately or used as a short term rental.
Maureen Neeley, president of the Belmont Heights Community Association, said the new guidelines could help ensure that the city doesn’t become over-developed while simultaneously providing more affordable housing for those who need it, especially for young adults just starting out, new graduates, or even for older residents who want to downsize but remain in their neighborhood.