San Diego City Council Makes It Easier for Developers to Build ADUs

by on April 12, 2022 · 0 comments

in Ocean Beach, San Diego

The San Diego City Council continued yesterday, Monday, April 11, to adjust its rules for accessory dwelling units (ADUs) and made it easier, supposedly, for developers and homeowners to build more of them for low-income residents.

Already the loosest rules in the state, San Diego’s ADU building process just got looser.

And developers play loose with the rules, as Paul Krueger demonstrated in today’s Rag.

David Garrick, of the U-T, reported it this way:

The new incentive makes it easier to take advantage of the city’s bonus program, which has allowed construction of one bonus ADU by any property owner willing to build an ADU and rent it at a reduced rate to low-income or moderate-income residents for 15 years.

The incentive, which the City Council approved unanimously, shrinks the duration of rent restrictions from 15 years to 10 years for low-income residents, but maintains the 15-year requirement for moderate-income residents.

City officials say accessory dwelling units, sometimes called granny flats or casitas, are the fastest and cheapest way to address the local housing crisis. They say having more of the units reserved for low-income residents can reduce homelessness. …

Tenants eligible to live in ADUs restricted for low-income people must earn less than $39,930 — 60 percent of the area’s median annual income of $66,550 for single-person households. Moderate income is defined as between 60 percent and 110 percent of the city’s median income. The bonus ADU can be rented at market rate.

Just last month, after pressure from community groups, the Council adjusted the ADU rules to to increase distances ADUs must be built from property lines, enhance landscaping requirements and provide greater clarification of some of the many rules.

Critics decry the the adverse impacts that the city’s ADU density BONUS program has on San Diego neighborhoods. For instance, using Transit Priority Areas (TPAs) to determine the number of ADUs that can be built on a property is counterproductive – the city’s current definition of a TPA “as the crow flies” will not significantly increase public transit use and will not help San Diego meet its climate action goals.

The changes that do provide marginal improvements in regulations for height and setback rules, development fees, and tree replacement are insufficient and do not significantly address the main issues that have been raised — specifically, the problems with the Bonus ADU investor incentive program and reliance on highly-flawed Transit Priority Areas in land use regulations.

Critics, particularly the group, Neighbors for a Better San Diego, are concerned that our elected officials and their department heads are concerned only with maximizing the number of units of housing produced, and that they consider affordability, climate action, infrastructure, fire safety, and quality of life expendable if those important issues conflict with the city’s end game of increasing housing, regardless of the consequences.


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