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Santa Barbara, CA 93108

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Santa Barbara, CA 93150

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Accessory Dwelling Units

Monday, August 7, 2017

Much has been made of recent changes to State law related to the construction of Accessory Dwelling Units (ADU), formerly known as Residential Second Units.  These changes affect local agencies, primarily by eliminating minimum lot size requirements, easing parking requirements and preempting local regulations until such time as they have been conformed to State law.  A review of the California Housing and Community Development’s (HCD) memorandum on the law is helpful in understanding its effect and implementation.  You can find that memo here.  Within the inland portions of unincorporated Santa Barbara County, applications for ADU are being evaluated under the State regulations.  Within the Coastal Zone, the County’s Coastal Zoning Ordinance continues to apply.

In light of this new legislation, Santa Barbara County is revising existing zoning codes.  The Montecito Planning Commission (MPC) and the County Planning Commission have now completed hearings on draft ordinance language.  The Board of Supervisors is expected to take up the issue on September 12, 2017.  Draft language as last considered by the MPC may be found here:  Draft Ordinance.  The Montecito Association has been actively engaged in monitoring and providing input to decision-makers with the goal of insuring protection of the character of Montecito while meeting the requirements of these new State mandates.  Our comments are available here: Montecito Association comments

The new State regulations are intended to ease requirements for the conversion and construction of new ADU to help meet California’s housing needs.  The primary changes make the approval process more ministerial, preclude local agencies from establishing a minimum lot size for an ADU, restrict the scope of development standards that can be applied, and ease parking requirements, among other changes.  Where an ADU is proposed in an existing structure on a residential lot, the applicable development standards are further eased. 

While the provisions to be applied in Montecito remain in flux, there are several substantive effects we are certain of.  The existing Montecito zoning code provisions establish a minimum lot size of 5 acres for a detached second unit and 7,000 square feet for an attached second unit.  These minimums will be eliminated.  The Montecito Association has advocated for retaining provisions that tie the maximum unit size to lot size, resulting in maximum allowed size of 400-1000 square feet.  Further, the new ordinance will reflect the State mandate that additional parking is not required for conversion of an existing structure to an ADU or when a new ADU on a lot with an existing residence is located within one-half mile of a bus stop. 

The Montecito Association will continue to monitor and engage with County decision-makers as they finalize revised zoning code provisions for ADU.  Again, our goal is to ensure the protection of the character of Montecito while meeting the requirements of these new State mandates.  We remain available to answer your questions and provide updates on this topic.  Please reach out to us through this website or by calling the office.