Fixing Long Beach’s Housing Crisis (Including Affordability), One Granny Flat at a Time • Long Beach Post

Above: an example of a granny flat built-out in a backyard.


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I had talked about granny flats one year ago this month, noting a set of bills being introduced at the State level that would ease construction on accessory dwelling units (ADUs), or granny flats—that is, places for people to live on existing properties like garages.

Why? Housing advocates like myself have pushed for relaxed restrictions around ADUs because many see them as a low-rise, relatively low density solution to providing much needed housing. As Professor of Architecture/Urban Design and Urban Planning at the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs Dana Cuff noted  at a KPCC panel on the housing crisis in 2015, in a city like Los Angeles or Long Beach, with millions of single family homes, if even 10% of homeowners were able to build ADUs, it would make a significant dent in the regional housing shortage.

Thanks to the passage of two laws amending ADU construction, Long Beach will be introducing its own granny flat ordinance that will “strike a balance,” according to City Staff, at permitting granny flats to be built but not at a “pervasive” level.

Following passage from the Planning Commission, the ordinance, should it be approved by Council, will allow ADUs of up to 1,000 sq. ft. (or no more than 50% of a property’s size) to be built. An original proposal was to make the maximum size 1,200 sq. ft. but that was shot down by Commissioners.

An example of how an ADU could be built in Long Beach is shown on the right.

In the aforelinked article, I highlighted two bills amongst four: SB 1069 and AB2299, each of which were signed into law and effective January 1 of this year.

The main focus of AB 2299—put forth by Santa Monica-based California State Assemblymember Richard Bloom—will be to strengthen a state law passed in 2002 that allows property owners to build accessory dwelling units (ADUs), or granny flats, in backyards and other available land on their property. Meanwhile, SB 1069 —introduced by Sen. Bob Wieckowski of Fremont—added findings to the state’s Planning and Zoning Law that ADUs add to the housing supply. In other words, one is practice and the other is substantiation for that practice in terms of housing.

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