NEWS BULLETIN: HOUSING IN DEL MAR IS NOT AFFORDABLE FOR LOW AND MIDDLE INCOME FAMILIES AND INDIVIDUALS. Before you say Duh and flip to the Sandpiper’s sports page, consider the possibilities for your property. The City is looking for ways to encourage more accessory dwelling units (ADUs), as the state continues to pressure communities to provide more housing for low and middle income families. Del Mar’s Housing Element, which requires the city to provide 42 affordable residential units during 2013-2021, includes many programs to reach this goal. One of the programs is to allow more ADUs (sometimes known as Granny Flats). These have been allowed in Del Mar since 1990, but as of today, only two have been permitted, though probably more exist in reality. To the extent that they are occupied by persons who qualify as low to middle income people, Del Mar may be missing out on the ability to count them as affordable housing (AH) units. In order to be counted as an AH unit, the owner must negotiate an agreement with the City, and the City has flexibility in the terms of these agreements.
The state legislature is not waiting until the end of every community’s Housing Element period to determine if communities are accomplishing their goals. Anticipating that goals may be difficult to achieve, it has passed laws designed to increase the stock of affordable housing units right now. Therefore, the City Council has tasked staff with designing a pilot program to determine what is required to make ADUs a more attractive alternative for increasing the number of AH units, with a minimal impact on neighborhoods.
The state requires that cities like Del Mar develop a set of permit requirements to allow for the construction of ADUs. The permit must be issued as a “ministerial act” (no DRB approval required) within 120 days of the application. The highlights of the law include:
a. The City cannot require that parking be provided if the ADU is within an existing structure and is within half a mile of public transportation (this includes most of Del Mar) If any parking is provided, it must be in the setback or tandem.
b. The primary dwelling and the ADU cannot be sold separately.
c. The City can require that a rental be leased for at least 30 days and that the owner must reside in the primary residence or the ADU.
The City could also permit “Junior” ADUs. A Junior ADU cannot exceed 500 square feet, must be within the walls of an existing space, have a separate entrance and include a separate bedroom and efficiency kitchen. In addition, only one such unit per lot is allowed, the owner must reside on the premises, and the ADU and primary residence must be sold as one property.
The Del Mar City Council must pass ordinances to allow for and encourage the development of more ADUs, which will count toward the number of units needed to meet the targets agreed to in the Housing Element. The Council is asking the Housing Corporation, the Planning Commission, and the Finance Committee to identify incentives that could stimulate more ADU applications.