(The following was published in Montecito Journal, February 16, 2017)
Two housing issues are at play in Montecito, both of which will be discussed at length in the coming weeks.
Two pieces of legislation were recently adopted by the California State legislature and signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown. Assembly Bill 2299 and Senate Bill 1069 reduce barriers, streamline the approval process, and expand the capacity to accommodate the development of accessory dwelling units (ADUs) in order to provide additional rental housing in residential areas. Santa Barbara County is currently amending the local ordinances in order to comply with the new laws, which preempt the County’s existing standards; public hearings on the amendments will take place later this month.
The new State requirements allow property owners to have permitted ADUs (aka “granny units”) on their residential property, with restrictions. The ADUs may be up to 1,200 square feet in size, and may be located within the existing residence or an accessory structure, such as an existing garage or pool house. Property owners would be required to provide additional parking for such units: one additional parking space for each sleeping room in the ADU, unless certain criteria are met (i.e. the ADU is located within one-half mile of public transit, or other criteria.) There are also setback requirements, and the units may be subject to requirements set forth by special districts including the Montecito Water District and Montecito Sanitary District, according to senior planner Noel Langle, who told us as of press time, no permit applications had yet been filed for an ADU in Montecito.
Langle also told us the ADUs would be under local jurisdiction when it comes to the ability to rent them out. This brings us to the second housing issue at play: the potential regulation of short-term vacation rentals in the County. The Board of Supervisors will further discuss the issue on March 21, when the Long Range Planning Division of the Planning & Development Department will present its latest findings and potential solutions to the polarizing issue. In December, the BOS spent multiple hours hearing from dozens of residents who voiced their opinion about vacation rentals. While Montecito Planning Commission, Santa Barbara Planning Commission, and the Montecito Association support a ban on STRs, the BOS asked staff to gather more information on alternatives to a ban.
“It will be interesting how these two issues impact one another,” Langle said.