Action on New ‘Granny Flats’ Ordinance Is Postponed

A potential La Cañada Flintridge City Council vote to adopt a new ordinance regarding accessory dwelling units, also known as granny flats, and bring local policy into compliance with upcoming state laws will have to wait until another day.
New state laws regarding ADUs go into effect on Jan. 1.
According to an agenda report, a proposed urgency ordinance was before the council Tuesday because the California Legislature has enacted and amended provisions for ADUs and junior accessory dwelling units over the last few years, culminating with the passage of five bills that Gov. Gavin Newsom signed in October.
The purpose of the bills is to increase housing availability statewide, streamline the permit process for ADUs and limit the restrictions local governments can place on them, according to the report.
Because only three council members were available Tuesday, a four-fifths vote to adopt an urgency ordinance could not be achieved, said City Manager Mark Alexander early in the meeting. He said the council had a variety of options, ranging from calling a special meeting to putting the topic off until the scheduled meeting on Jan. 21.
Susan Koleda, LCF director of community development, clarified there is a 60-day window after Jan. 1 to approve new local rules, and most state ordinance regulations would be able to be accommodated locally.
“Can’t we just hold it to a date uncertain?” asked Councilman Michael Davitt.Councilwoman Terry Walker and Mayor Leonard Pieroni wondered the same thing, prompting Alexander to more fully explain the timeline.
An ADU is described as an attached or detached residential unit that provides complete independent living facilities for one or more people and is located on a lot with a proposed or existing primary home. It includes permanent provisions for living, sleeping, eating, cooking and sanitation on the same parcel as the single-family or multifamily dwelling. A junior accessory dwelling unit is no more than 500 square feet and is contained within an existing single-family structure.
The five new laws address minimum lot size, replacement of off-street parking, impact fees, ADU sale by a nonprofit corporation and incentives for affordable ADUs.
In seeking to match the state’s rules, the proposed local ordinance would permit an ADU that is at least 800 square feet whether it is attached or detached, at least 16 feet high and with 4-foot side and rear yard setbacks. On a multifamily lot, the city must allow multiple converted ADUs or up to two detached ADUs.
Changes to parking requirements would prohibit the city from requiring the replacement of off-street parking spaces when a garage, carport or covered parking structure is demolished to construct an ADU or converted into an ADU.
Resident David Haxton, who also spoke about the topic at a Planning Commission meeting last week, said he was thankful for the state bills but cited a lengthy list of concerns about ADUs to the council. He said the city should allow for separate utilities for ADUs and not require paved parking, questioned whether ADUs should be allowed on lots with septic tanks or on winding roads, and emphasized the need for clarifying language in the state’s law.
Georgie Kajer of Kajer Architects in LCF spoke in favor of the ADU law, and said she was working on such units in this city, Pasadena and other areas.
“I’m very grateful we’re getting the topic out and having a general discussion about it,” Kajer said.

PUBLIC SAFETY REPORTS

A public safety report by Capt. Todd Deeds of the Crescenta Valley Sheriff’s Station said there were four residential burglaries in LCF during November, fewer than the seven in October and the 11 in September.
“All those happened at the beginning of November,” Deeds told the council. He added that the November arrest of an alleged burglary crew linked to some crimes in LCF by the sheriff’s Major Crimes Bureau appeared to have helped lead to a decrease in crime. An arrest around Nov. 27 of three people with burglary tools, such as masks, beanies and items to break glass, has also helped, he said.
“One thing I realized is once these burglary crews are taken into custody, it always seems like there’s a major decrease in the number of residential burglaries,” Deeds said.
Local deputies continue to work with the bureau and other deputies countywide to be “aggressive and try to take these people off the street,” Deeds said.
Deeds’ report showed there had been 91 residential burglaries in LCF from January through November, compared with 51 in the same period last year — a 78% increase.
No homicides, rapes, robberies, aggravated assaults, grand theft autos or arsons were reported in November, Deeds said.
This month, there have been two residential burglaries and one attempted burglary, he said.
“We went a full month without any residential burglaries,” he said, referring to the period from Nov. 10-Dec. 10. “We’re doing our best. In the meantime, we have the countywide (deputies) team providing extra patrols and we have hired additional personnel throughout the month and into January to help be visible and hopefully curb crime.”
Anderson Mackey, a county assistant fire chief, said there were three fires in LCF in November. There is still no listed cause for a Nov. 14 brush fire that threatened Godbey Drive near the La Cañada Flintridge Country Club; the other incidents involved a dryer fire and a vehicle fire.

SOUND WALLS

City Public Works Director Patrick DeChellis provided an update on the third phase of 210 Freeway sound wall construction.
A mid-August request for proposals for the $12 million project drew no responses, and DeChellis said he has reached out to four interested firms that will send bids and he will post the project on various websites.
He said the proposals are due Jan. 23 and will be evaluated. Officials plan to seek council approval for a contract at the panel’s March 17 meeting, he said.
The third phase was approved last December. It involves the south side of the freeway and includes a continuation of the project’s second phase from Alta Canyada Road to the bridge under Foothill Boulevard at Memorial Park; the south side of the 210 from west of Vineta Avenue to the eastbound on-ramp east of Georgian Road that overlaps part of the first phase; and the north side of the 210 from the intersection of Baptiste Way and Vineta to the Crown Avenue/Foothill westbound exit.
After the meeting, DeChellis said he hoped construction could start in late 2021, but noted that depends on the firms.

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