Nevada County supervisors vote to ease restrictions on building second units
September 13, 2017
The Nevada County Board of Supervisors approved changes to the county’s land use and development code Tuesday, Sept. 12, that could create more affordable housing opportunities by loosening restrictions for homeowners building accessory dwelling units.
The changes — approved unanimously by the supervisors — bring the county’s code into compliance with new state laws that took effect in January.
Senate Bill 1069 and Assembly Bill 2299 are the state’s latest revisions to laws that govern the units.
The California Department of Housing and Community Development defines an accessory unit as “a secondary dwelling unit with complete independent living facilities for one or more persons,” which can be detached or attached from a primary residence, according to a memorandum.
Accessory units, the memorandum states, are “a unique opportunity to address a variety of housing needs and provide affordable housing options.”
Amendments approved by the supervisors Tuesday were a direct response to the senate and assembly bills, which made local government ordinances that were not in compliance with the state laws null and void.
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Major changes included increasing the maximum allowed size of an accessory unit to 50 percent of the size of the primary residence on the property — up from 30 percent — with the exception that the accessory unit can be no greater than 1,200 square feet, requiring only one parking space per bedroom for accessory units, requiring neither a separate utility connection nor fire sprinklers, and allowing homeowners to build the units on properties zoned for single-family residences.
The Nevada County Planning Commission recommended the board consider allowing non-occupying homeowners to build accessory units, which the county’s current law prohibits. Some members of the public said the idea would allow more homeowners to build second units, and would in turn help increase affordable housing opportunities in the county.
The supervisors directed staff to further research the idea — noting that more information was needed before action could be taken — along with other possible additions to the code changes suggested by the public, which are not part of the new state laws. Those additions include reducing the maximum allowed size of the units to ensure affordability, prohibiting the units from being used as short-term vacation rentals ,and lowering development fees to encourage homeowners to build the units.