California Coastal Commission Causes San Diego to Tighten Up Rules on ADU Parking, Public Review and Other Requirements

by on June 21, 2022 · 2 comments

in Ocean Beach

Due to demands from the California Coastal Commission, the City of San Diego was forced to backtrack on its new accessory dwelling unit rules regarding parking requirements — none.

And on Monday the City Council voted unanimously to require new ADUs near the beach to have parking spots if they aren’t close to a trolley stop or a bus line with frequent service. The council was forced to trash its earlier blanket parking exemption for those who build new ADUs (“granny flats”).

The Commission’s logic:  allowing residents of new ADUs to take up scarce parking spots near the beach would make it harder for tourists and residents from inland areas to park near the beach. It stated:

“It represents a potential substantial intensification of residential development in the coastal zone without a commensurate increase in off-street parking. An increase in parking demand could result in residents of the accessory uses, the primary residence, or both, occupying public parking that would otherwise be used by coastal visitors, increasing the burden of accessing the coast and deterring coastal recreation.”

In late 2020, San Diego approved the loosest ADU rules in the state, ostensibly to encourage the building of the small additions. They hadn’t gone into effect at the beach and other coastal communities pending a response from the Coastal Commission. Well, the Commission demanded some modifications to the city’s policies.

Other Changes Demanded by the Commission

  • the commission demanded the city retreat from making ADU construction in coastal areas exempt from review by the city; now ADU developers in coastal areas will be required to go through a similar process to that required for a building permit, although the city says no appeals will be allowed;
  • the Coastal Commission is requiring developers and owners of coastal ADUs to alert tenants that they are vulnerable to sea-level rise.
  • The changes also prohibit developers of ADUs to make the land they use for such projects more resilient to coastal erosion by creating physical structures to protect shoreline land;
  • conversion of non-compliant ADUs won’t be allowed in places defined as wetlands, coastal bluffs are other environmentally sensitive areas.

David Garrick, at the U-T, quoted Paul Kreuger, a member of Neighbors for a Better San Diego, and who occasionally writes for the OB Rag.

“Thank god for the Coastal Commission,” Kreuger said. “If all those people living in ADUs along the coast park on the street, there will be no place to park for anybody else.” Kreuger praised the Coastal Commission for requiring parking with new ADUs in some places.

Kreuger and the group have criticized San Diego’s loose ADU rules as having gone too far, partly because ADU developers aren’t required to provide necessary companion infrastructure like parking spots. Kreuger also noted, however, the new rule won’t affect a large number of properties because of the city’s exemption for transit priority areas, which are sites within half a mile of a major transit stop.

And according to Garrick at the U-T:

The new rule applies to the city’s “beach impact area,” which is generally everything within two to three blocks of the coast. But almost all of the beach impact area is in a transit priority area because major bus routes run to the beach.

The Coastal Commission is aware of this and stressed that the new rule is a forward-looking policy that might make more impact in the future.

It stated:

“While currently most of the City’s beach impact area is overlapped by the transit priority area, and thus this parking requirement is not expected to be implemented often under current conditions, the suggested modification ensures that if the transit priority area’s boundaries or definition — the area within one-half mile of a major transit stop — are ever changed, those areas of the coast experiencing highest parking demand are protected for public access.”

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

kh June 21, 2022 at 4:47 pm

The city has already been haphazardly approving ADU projects over the past 2 years based on this ordinance that was never certified by the Coastal Commission. This is a violation of state law. I have brought this to DSD’s attention numerous times, with mixed results.

DSD needs to train it’s staff that coastal projects are subject to different laws than the rest of the city.


Douglas Blackwood June 21, 2022 at 9:29 pm

Boneheads seem to rule SDCity: from Mayor Golding, to Jen Campbell from Ash St to ? Tearing out mature trees, & planting saplings!
Wrecking San Diego for residents; will it ever end?


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