San Diego Residents vs. Wave of Granny-Flats

by on December 22, 2021 · 3 comments

in Ocean Beach, San Diego

By David Garrick / San Diego Union-Tribune / Dec. 22, 2021

SAN DIEGO — San Diego’s raging battle over granny-flat regulations is headed for a conclusion this winter that seems likely to leave community leaders and resident groups frustrated. Their goal is preserving community and neighborhood character by rolling back some year-old policy changes that have made San Diego’s granny-flat rules among the least restrictive in California.

But the potential for granny flats to help solve the local housing crisis has prompted city planning officials to reject any significant rollbacks. Instead, they are proposing only modest adjustments to regulations governing granny flats, which are also sometimes called casitas or the city’s formal name for them: accessory dwelling units.

Those modest adjustments were unanimously endorsed last week by the city’s Planning Commission, which had expressed support for more aggressive rollbacks before being persuaded to retreat by city officials. That change of heart came despite the Community Planners Committee, an umbrella group of neighborhoods leaders from across the city, endorsing a comprehensive set of rollbacks proposed by resident group Neighbors for a Better San Diego.

The residents are proposing parking restrictions, increases in fees paid by granny-flat developers and changes to a city incentive that allows construction of “bonus” granny flats. They also want developers to be required to provide more trees on properties where they build granny flats, and they want requirements for more space between new granny flats and property lines. In addition, they want city officials to prohibit granny flats in areas with high fire risk and to tighten the definition of a “transit priority area” because granny flats in those areas face much looser rules.

City planning officials have embraced only the fee increases, tree requirements and additional space between granny flats and property lines. And the city’s proposals in those areas are less aggressive than the residents have requested. But city officials are proposing to prohibit property owners from simultaneously taking advantage of granny flat incentives and a new state law — SB9 — that requires cities to allow up to four dwellings on many single-family lots.

Such a prohibition has been a high priority for Neighbors for a Better San Diego, a well-organized lobbying group that sprang from resident outcry against granny flats in Kensington and Talmadge. The modest rollbacks endorsed by the Planning Commission are scheduled for debate in January by the City Council’s Land Use and Housing Committee, and then for possible approval in February by the City Council.

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Mat Wahlstrom December 22, 2021 at 7:44 pm

From the article: “The San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce declined to endorse the more aggressive rollback proposed by residents, or the more modest changes proposed by the city.”

Don Sanders has spoken. So shall it be done.


Frank Fizt December 23, 2021 at 9:15 am

Let’s not forget, this is not a local caused issue. Bitching at the San Diego City Council is not going to solve this problem.

The various laws that allowed the proliferation of granny flats came from the supermajority democrat party in Sacramento.

When you have a legislature that is a supermajority one party, you have no debate, no compromise, only “shove it down the throat of the voter” law making. Think about that the next time you vote.


Geoff Page December 23, 2021 at 1:37 pm

Actually, bitching at the city is important now, Fizt. The state laws are bad enough but the “enhancements” the city has added are far worse. It would be a relief in itself if the city’s changes were removed and we only had the state law to deal with. No, in this case, the city needs to hear all the bitching we can give it.


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