Letter from Geoge Buell, City Planning Director, re: ADUs

For your information:

As you are likely aware, at this time City staff is following state law with respect to ADUs.  However, we have just entered into a contract with a firm that will be helping craft a local ordinance that provides a better suited ADU regulatory structure to Santa Barbara.  The state law under which we are now operating is fairly broad, and it does not prohibit ADUs in high fire areas.  However, a locally adopted ordinance can be crafted to exclude ADUs where those units cause public safety and other impacts.

I will ask that Renee Brooke or her staff to provide you with additional detail, such as process, timing and scope.  In the meantime, you can view additional information on our ADU web page here:  http://www.santabarbaraca.gov/services/planning/mpe/accessory_dwelling_units.asp

If questions remain after you receive the additional information, let me know.

Regards,

George

George Buell
Community Development Director
CITY OF SANTA BARBARA, Community Development
(805) 564-5503 | gbuell@SantaBarbaraCA.gov

Letter to the Riviera Association from member Helen Couclelis, May 18, 2017

Regardless of whether Rivera homeowners welcome or deplore the new ADU legislation, we all are subject to the same natural and manmade hazards. Our beautiful neighborhood is officially a high-fire-risk area, and also a high-earthquake-risk area according to the California Earthquake Authority, which recently listed Zip Code 93103 as such. Our narrow, winding, and steep streets are not suitable for mass evacuations, and the prospect of potentially significantly increased population densities and cars parked on the streets must give us pause.

  Even a blanket piece of legislation such as the one imposing ADUs does permit exceptions under conditions such as those in our neighborhood:

“ADUs can be avoided or allowed through an ancillary and separate discretionary process in areas with health and safety risks such as high fire hazard areas… Designating areas where ADUs are allowed should be approached primarily on health and safety issues including water, sewer, traffic flow and public safety.” (California Department of Housing and Community Development, Accessory Dwelling Unit Memorandum, December 2016, p. 8).

  Is our Homeowners Association working with the City to make sure that reasonable and necessary measures are taken to defend life and property on the Riviera (never mind our much-ballyhooed quality of life)?  Special high-risk area regulations are required NOW. THIS IS URGENT, as permits have already been issued and construction of additional units is about to begin.

The New State Law on Accessory Dwelling Units

We want to alert you to a new state law which may affect your property.  The new law mandates and overrides cities and counties in allowing second living units without discretionary review such as that now conducted by the City of Santa Barbara’s Architectural Board of Review or Planning Commission. Such units can be up to a 1200 sq. ft. detached guest house, a portion of your home which is half the size of the remaining house area (1200 sq. ft. max), or even a remodeled garage.  Off-street parking can be tandem, even in setbacks, or none if within a half mile of a bus stop. Modifications to rules accordingly are being discussed daily at the City and County.  To learn more about whether your or neighboring properties may be affected by this change, contact an architect or a planning consultant.