SCOTT SKINNER, Dana Point
California passed ADU legislation, effective Jan. 1, 2021, giving qualifying property owners the right to convert existing unlivable space into an Alternative Dwelling Unit. The state ADU law intends to create new affordable housing throughout California by allowing property owners the legal right to add an ADU.
However, the city has adopted an unlawful ADU ordinance, which thwarts these rights. I am a property owner converting an existing 486-square-foot storage room with a bathroom into a studio apartment by mainly adding a sink, cabinets, and appliances.
I submitted an ADU permit application, architect plans, and the permit fee of $5,422 in August of 2022, the city informed me I would have to complete an additional Site Development Permit application for discretionary approval and another fee of $7,200.
I have a duplex with a two-car garage, which was legal when built but non-conforming to current garage requirements mandating an additional two car garage. The state ADU statute prohibits retroactive conformity mandates. Therefore, the site development permit has no purpose other than unlawful fees and a method for city planner’s unlawful discretion to reject permits as a surrogate for the City Council’s political agenda against ADU’s.
My particular ADU submittal qualifies under state law for expedited 60-day administrative approval. Since the City Council wrote its ADU ordinance more restrictive than the state law, the California Department of Housing and Community Development has notified the city that its ordinance is unlawful. The planning department has no right to reject an ADU that qualifies for administrative approval.
I wrote to the planning department extensively concerning the city’s unlawful requirement. I took his complaint to the HCD, which resulted in corrective letters to the planning director of Dana Point.
To date, city planning refuses to process the ADU permit. The HCD is in receipt of many complaints. I anticipate the California Attorney General may sue the city and fine the city councilmembers similar to their legal action against the City of Huntington Beach.