SAN DIEGO–San Diego County’s Board of Supervisors took action Wednesday to fight the housing and affordable housing crisis by voting to spend $11 million on a five-year trial program to waive fees to encourage homeowners to build “granny flats” on their properties.
The Board voted 4-0, with Supervisor Greg Cox absent, to approve an ordinance creating the five-year program to waive fees to build “accessory dwelling units,” commonly referred to as granny flats, in unincorporated communities. The program immediately waives building permit fees, onsite wastewater fees as well as development impact fees, which include transportation fees to add roads and infrastructure, fees to build parks, and drainage fees, for homeowners who want to build granny flats.
“This is really a big deal,” said Board Chairwoman Dianne Jacob. “We talk a lot about housing, the need for housing, and the need for affordable housing. This is the easiest and quickest way to get there.”
The state of California also passed a law that took effect in 2018 to ease restrictions and allow property owners to build more granny flats, which are typically smaller than standard homes.
However, the County’s program actually provides a financial incentive by waiving fees for local homeowners in unincorporated areas.
San Diego County’s regulations allow granny flats to be up to 1,200 square feet in size. They can be attached to, or built separate from, full-sized homes on the same parcel, and include kitchens, bathrooms, living areas and private entrances. They cannot be sold as individual homes, but they can be rented out by homeowners or used to provide additional living space for family members, friends, students, the elderly, the disabled, or in-home health care providers. Properties must meet all zoning requirements, such as setbacks that meet fire safety and building codes.
The County’s program includes $11 million in funding over the five-year trial period to offset revenue lost by waiving the permit and development fees.
The County’s department of Planning & Development Services brought several proposals to the Board in October, at the request of Jacob and former Supervisor Bill Horn, to address the housing shortage and make it easier for people hoping to build. Those proposals included the idea of using incentives to encourage homeowners to build more granny flats.
Wednesday’s action approves the program, fee waivers and funding.