New Granny Flats law increases parking issues
The City is considering an ordinance to regulate Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs are also called Granny Flats.) It will determine how much parking property owners must provide if they want to add a small home in their yard.
The June 1st Planning Commission hearing was continued until July 6 because Commissioners asked staff for more info on parking and unit size. This was a big deal because they stood firm to get more parking to prevent new homes from adding cars to the street parking!
The State passed a mandate on Accessory Dwelling Units that went into effect January 1 (AB2299). The intent is to increase housing. State mandates say that any R-1 zoned lot of 4,800' sq or over can now add an extra unit. The City's proposed ordinance will also affect other types of residential properties, not just single family homes.
The State requirement said these granny flats can be built without additional parking if it's within 1/2 mile of transit (plus there were other conditions under which no parking is required). City staff showed by map that nearly all of Long Beach is within 1/2 mile of transit. State law does allow the city to require parking if the property is in a parking impacted area or the coastal zone. City staff recommended one space per unit in these areas. The Planning Commissioners wanted more parking for large units (the new ADU homes could be up to 1200 square feet in size).
At the June 1st Planning Commission hearing, the public asked for more parking and wanted more public informed about this meeting. City staff said 60 people who had shown interest in ADUs had been informed (apparently not parking groups).
We asked our attorney and parking consultant to review the State restrictions in hopes of finding help. The parking consultant said the State law doesn't consider that transit within 1/2 mile of a home doesn't mean it's adequate transit. Still, the State law restricts the city's ability to regulate parking in these ADUs. Our conclusion was that the best way we have to prevent these ADUs from adding to neighborhood parking issues is to keep the "Parking Impacted Areas" maps updated at least every 2 years so that parking could be required in these areas. This was also mentioned during public comment by someone from the BHCA (Belmont Heights Community Association). Our attorney, TAPS, and some individuals sent letters.
At the July 5 meeting, staff's new recommendations did raise the parking requirements to 2 spaces per unit if the unit was 640 sq ft or larger. The Commissioners also lowered the maximum size of an ADU to 1,000 sq ft.
Staff told the Commissioners that the Parking Impacted Areas had been updated during the Mobility Element Process in 2013. The ordinance received the Planning Commission's approval without any requirement that those impacted areas be updated. Next it goes to City Council for approval.
Many of you ask when the parking study will be done. The timeline in our settlement says it will conclude in late 2018. We also hear your concern about these new developments that are facing approval, taking away parking lots plus the new buildings will have inadequate parking. One is at Alamitos and 4th. Obviously, the parking study's data cannot help to get enough parking in those buildings because it won't come soon enough. TAPS will try again soon to get the Planning Commission to consider interim parking regulations to prevent parking spillover into our neighborhoods. One option the city could use is to require "mini studies" with each project, an idea that has already been used elsewhere in Long Beach. KOA (parking study firm) should be under contract with the city by now so we will likely hear from them soon. We would like their input before going to the Planning Commission.