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Encinitas Hopes To Increase Housing Stock With Granny Flats

The city of Encinitas has approved an ordinance making it easier for residents to build granny flats, or accessory dwelling units.

Encinitas is the only city in San Diego County which does not have a housing plan with enough land zoned for new affordable housing to meet state law.

Photo caption: An Encinitas city sign is shown in this photo, July 2017.

Photo by Alison St John

An Encinitas city sign is shown in this photo, July 2017.

The city is also being sued by developers for being too restrictive on new development.

Mayor Catherine Blakespeare said allowing accessory dwelling units like granny flats is a significant step in the right direction.

“Nothing is going to be the silver bullet that says we don’t have to do anything else, but in Encinitas, if we start to do a lot more of these little things around the edges, we can make some good progress.”

Blakespeare said the ordinance could save residents about $3,000 in fees. She said if families use the dwelling units for relatives and charge no or low rent, the units could count towards the city’s affordable housing stock.

Under a new state law that went into effect this year, the city can only require one off-street parking space per unit, unless the unit is within half a mile of public transit or an historic district.

The Encinitas ordinance allows granny flats up to 1,200 square feet in size, depending on the lot size, and "Junior Accessory Dwelling Units" of up to 500 square feet that are within an existing home.

Some other coastal cities in San Diego County have passed ordinances limiting the size of accessory dwelling units to 550 or 640 square feet.

Blakespeare said making granny flats easier to build is prioritizing people who already live in Encinitas.

“You can make a little money on your home, you can provide for your extended family or have a caregiver living there,“ she said. “In some ways our building codes have been so restrictive that we haven’t incentivized more creative ways to manage the way families might want to live.”

She said the city currently permits about 30 accessory dwelling units a year and she hopes that, under the new ordinance, they will double that.

The city of Encinitas has approved an ordinance making it easier for residents to build granny flats, or accessory dwelling units.

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