Under new state laws regarding duplexes and accessory dwelling units (ADUs), how many can be built on one lot? Do they have to blend in with surrounding homes? What about older homes that can’t meet the setback requirements? Who will enforce owner occupancy requirements?

Long Beach planning officials will be looking to answer those kinds of questions and many more as they draft new local rules that spell out what property owners can and can’t do when it comes to ADUs and duplexes in the city.

At an open house Wednesday night at the city utilities building on Spring Street, they listened to questions, concerns and priorities from homeowners and builders who want to build new units, and from residents wondering how those new buildings will affect their community.

Long Beach already has regulations regarding ADUs, and there’s even a set of pre-approved ADU designs people can buy, but the rules need an update to incorporate changes to state law and flesh out some details.

The state-mandated housing planning process requires the city to find places where 26,500 new homes could be added by 2029, and city officials have said ADUs will be an important part of reaching the goal. They made up more than half of the housing starts in Long Beach last year.

East Long Beach residents Kristie and Pat Brown are thinking of building an ADU someday, if they can buy a parcel behind their house, because “I don’t want to see it out our window,” Pat Brown said.

If they do build one, they might rent it out, or offer it to their kids if they move back to California. The Browns said they’d like to see requirements for quality building materials and designs that complement existing homes.

Parking was the main concern for Kathryn Guernsey, who’s lived in the Grant neighborhood in North Long Beach for about 13 years. She and her daughter, Sara Guernsey, said the city should allow property owners to replace part of their grassy front lawns with driveways of permeable concrete, so even if a garage is converted to an ADU, there will still be off-street parking.

Sara wrote up the suggestion and is hoping the city will consider it. “I know eventually the goal is to go green and get rid of vehicles, but right now people have to get to work.”

Parking and quality of life issues were common concerns Wednesday night, city Advance Planning Officer Alejandro Sanchez-Lopez said.

“We have heard a lot of really good feedback on how people have seen changes happen in their neighborhoods” since state laws on ADUs changed, he said.

Some residents, like Valerie Amos, who lives in the Virginia Country Club area, came to the open house to learn about the rules and parameters for ADUs.

“With housing prices being what they are, if this is the way to integrate cost savings for people, then I’m definitely inclined” to support making it easier to build ADUs, Amos said.

Others had concerns about the impact some neighborhoods are already seeing from ADUs and what they see as a lack of regulation by the city.

Alison, who didn’t want to give her last name but said she lives in Los Altos, said ADUs have already gone up near her home without permits and no one ever came to inspect them.

She worries more owners will build new units and then pack them with Cal State Long Beach students who have loud parties and an abundance of cars.

“I agree there’s housing problems. I don’t think this is the answer,” she said.

Planning officials said they’ll consider residents’ feedback as they draft new regulations, which should be ready by next spring, and new rules could be in place by mid-2024.

Long Beach now has pre-approved ADU designs for homeowners