City Council: New Rules for Granny Flats and Support for Clean Water

At the September 19 meeting, Coronado’s City Council approved a new accessory dwelling unit (ADU) (“granny flat”) ordinance. It also committed to assist the City of Imperial Beach’s efforts to keep coastal water safe for swimmers and surfers.

Accessory Dwelling Units

The council generally adopted the staff recommendations that ADUs be no larger that 800 square feet, carriage houses could not be converted to ADUs, historic homes require a historical alterations permit, and each ADU must have one parking space for each bedroom. While each of these were approved, all had detractors. Some quibbled that 800 square feet was too small a space for a family to live in. Councilman Bill Sandke pointed out that his first home wasn’t much larger; it was a 1,000 square foot, three bedroom Palmer. “Until our kids got big, it was plenty of room for us,” Sandke said.

The requirements that ADUs have a separate utility hook up or have to be rented for at least 26 days were set aside for the council to consider a future meeting.

Denying homeowners who live on Third or Fourth Streets east of Orange Avenue, or on the 300 blocks of A, B, or C Avenues, the right to build an ADU was jettisoned completely. This issue had generated the most opposition from residents. The staff had determined that adding ADUs to that “corridor” was unsafe because of the number of traffic accidents that have occurred there. Residents objected. “We are the victims of all the traffic coming over here terrorizing these streets,” David McDonald told the council. He added that the reason the streets were unsafe is because the city has failed to solve the traffic problem. “The only reason the area is unsafe is the city has kicked the issue down the road.”

“We are dealing with a complex subject,” Mayor Richard Bailey acknowledged.
”This is a good first crack, but there is room for improvement.” He cited the exclusion of Third and Fourth Streets from the bridge to Orange Avenue, the cost of utility connections and the fear that ADUs might be used for short-term rentals. He suggested making owners lease their ADUs for 6 months, instead of 26 days.

Councilwoman Carrie Downey suggested that ADU rentals should be one year; “I want these to be real rentals.” For a real rental the owner would want to offer tenants a one-year lease, just as every landlord in town does.

Demanding that ADUs have a separate utility hookups also brought in criticism. Realtor Jon Palmieri pointed out that this would add some $20,000 to construction costs. To add another sewer line, “you need to tap into the sewer line.” This requires shutting down the alley. Other utilities would have to be underground and new meters would have to be installed. “This is an unnecessary expense,” Palmieri said. “They’ve never been required for guest or carriage houses.”

Still Downey thought fees may well be in order. “”I want to make sure costs are reasonable, but I don’t want to subsidize them either,” she said.

Support for Clean Water in the Tijuana River Valley

The council voted unanimously to support the City of Imperial Beach’s efforts to stop sewage from the Tijuana River Valley from fouling coastal waters. The actions Coronado committed to include: supporting legislation to fund repairs to the South Bay International Wastewater Treatment Plant’s infrastructure and reimbursing Imperial Beach up to $50,000 to offset legal fees incurred trying to improve wastewater treatment at the facility. Coronado also pledged to support lobbying efforts at the state level to “bring about long-term solutions.”

The council did not endorse the Tijuana River Valley Comprehensive Protection and Rehabilitation Act. The bipartisan bill was proposed by Congressmen Darrell Issa and Juan Vargas. City Manager Blair King recommend that they not include a specific bill reference. “That might bind your hands. The bill’s number could change. The bill’s sponsors could change,” he said. “You’ve already given us enough to to pursue that freely.”

The council’s commitment was not lost on advocates for coastal waters. “We appreciate this and thank you,” said Daron Case, who has spearheaded efforts to keep raw sewage off local beaches. “What you’ve done is a blueprint for other communities who want to support the lawsuit without joining the lawsuit.”

 

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