City Hall

Citrus Heights working to increase affordable housing by easing building regs

Construction, garage conversions
Citrus Heights is seeking to ease regulations on garage conversions and accessory dwelling units, following the passage of a new state law. // CH Sentinel

In an effort to increase affordable housing in the city and comply with a new state law, the City of Citrus Heights has been taking steps to ease regulations on garage conversions and secondary dwelling units.

Last month, Citrus Heights planning commissioners unanimously voted to recommend a new set of draft regulations that modify regulations on accessory dwelling units and make it easier for proposed garage conversions to meet replacement parking requirements. The draft regulations are slated to be heard by the city council later this month, with a final vote in July.

Update: Citrus Heights council members later voted to approve the new regulations.

Assembly Bill 2299 and Senate Bill 1069, which came into effect in January of this year, sought to create more affordable housing in the state by requiring that cities drop certain difficult-to-meet building regulations in order to make it easier to add secondary dwellings on single-family residential properties.

When passed in the California legislature last year, the housing bills received bi-partisan support, with Senator Jim Nielsen (R-Tehama) and Assemblyman Ken Cooley (D-Rancho Cordova) each voting for the bills. Both Nielsen and Cooley represent Citrus Heights and the surrounding region in the state legislature.

“The state said we are in need of affordable housing, so, jurisdictions you need to comply with the state regulations as far as approving [accessory dwelling units] and allowing them in different locations,” Citrus Heights Associate Planner Allison Bermudez explained to commissioners during a May 24 meeting.

Secondary dwellings and other forms of independent living units, now both called “accessory dwelling units” or ADUs, are either detached or attached to a primary residential structure and provide permanent provisions for living, sleeping, eating, cooking and sanitation. ADUs are often used as an affordable way for seniors to live independently while being close to family, and are also rented out to others to provide supplemental income to the property owner.

Proposed changes address items like dwelling size, fire sprinklers, and utility connection fees, but Bermudez told The Sentinel the most significant change in the city deals with parking requirements associated with ADUs and garage conversions — which have prevented many residents from being able to obtain a permit.

She said previously, residents would have to add one parking spot per bedroom added, and could not count the driveway or setback areas. But under the new state law, cities cannot require additional parking if the property is located within a half-mile of public transit.

Since about 80 percent of Citrus Heights is within a half-mile of public transit, according to a study by the city’s planning division, Bermudez said a discretionary recommendation was made to drop the additional parking requirement altogether for ADUs to create a clear and consistent policy city-wide. Garage conversions into ADUs or living space would still be required to have replacement parking — but driveway spots, tandem parking, and setback areas would qualify for replacement parking, whereas currently they do not.

Document: See full draft regulations, page 21-44

Bermudez said the new proposed regulations will give residents “an option to meet their family needs, and do it legally, and convert their garages legally and make sure people are living in safe spaces.”

Other items in the proposed regulations include a 1200-square-foot maximum size for detached ADU’s and an approval process required within 120-days of an application being submitted. Additional information about the proposed changes is included below in the city’s draft version of frequently asked questions about ADUs:

Draft Version: Frequently Asked Questions – ADU’s
*Source: City of Citrus Heights

What are the benefits of an ADU?
ADUs are a cost-effective type of home that provides independent living space for family members and others. This flexible living space can be used to allow seniors live independently while being close to family, can provide an affordable living space for students and young professionals, and can help provide supplemental income for the property owner.

Where are ADU’s allowed?
An ADU may be located on residentially zoned property that is developed with a single-family residence. Only one ADU is allowed on qualifying parcels. An ADU may not be placed on properties developed with duplexes or other types of multi-family housing.

What size ADU is allowed?
An ADU is intended to be secondary in size to the primary home. An ADU attached to a primary dwelling may be up to 60% of the size of the primary residence, up to a maximum of 1,200 square feet. An ADU detached from the primary home may be up to 1,200 square feet, regardless of the size of the primary structure. Examples for the allowed sizes are provided below:

• Single-family home of 1,800 square feet (including 480 sf attached garage) x 60% would allow an attached ADU up to 1,080 square feet.
• Single-family home of 1,800 square feet (including 480 sf attached garage) would be allowed a detached ADU up to 1,200 square feet.
Lot Coverage

Lot coverage is the percentage of total lot area occupied by all structures including the primary residence, all accessory structures, and an accessory dwelling units (does not include swimming pools). Each zoning designation has allowable lot coverage percentage. Check with the Planning Division to determine what the allowed lot coverage is for your parcel.

Do I need to provide additional parking for a new ADU?
Although providing parking should be considered when designing your project, additional parking is not required with the addition of an ADU.

What if I want to convert my garage to an ADU, do I need to replace the parking?
Yes, when converting a garage to an ADU the property must replace the parking space being lost by the conversion, even if you didn’t use your garage for parking. The replacement parking may be in any configuration including tandem, on a driveway, or within the setback areas. Additional parking is not required to accommodate the new living space created within the garage. Refer to Zoning Code Section 106.36.080- Parking Design and Development Standards for additional information.

May I sell or rent my ADU?
An ADU is constructed on the same parcel as a primary residence therefore it may not be sold separately from the primary home but there is no restriction on who may rent the ADU.

Does the ADU count towards the density of my property?
Density is the number of units per acre of land as provided in the City’s General Plan. ADU’s are not included when calculating the density of a parcel.

What are the setbacks for an ADU?
A new ADU must comply with the setbacks of the zoning district. Please contact the Planning Division to find out the zoning of your property.

May I convert an existing accessory structure into an ADU?
Yes, any legal existing accessory structure such as a garage, workshop, etc. may be converted into an ADU regardless of height limits, lot coverage, setbacks and is not required to provide additional parking as long as the ADU provides independent living space for sleeping, cooking, and sanitation. Please contact the Planning Division to determine if your existing accessory structure is considered legal.

May I create an ADU within the footprint of my existing home?
Yes, existing space, such as an attached garage, may be converted into an ADU.

Is a Building Permit required for an ADU?
Yes, once it has been determined that you are able to create an ADU on your property whether it is converted space or new construction, you will be required to obtain a Building Permit to ensure that the living area meets all the building and safety codes.

What about utility connections?
ADU’s are required to provide the necessary utility services such as water and sewer. Check with each service agency to obtain information on their requirements including permit processing and fees.

Is the ADU required to have fire sprinklers?
In most cases an ADU does not require the installation of fire sprinklers but this determination is based upon a variety of factors including the size of the ADU and its distance from a roadway. Prior to investing in a project, owners should discuss their project with Sacramento Metropolitan Fire District who will determine the fire protection services that may be required.

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