San Diego waives fees to accelerate granny flats construction

Photo: Mayor Kevin Faulconer/Credit:

With the goal of increasing San Diego’s housing supply for low- and middle-income San Diegans, the city council voted unanimously to waive development impact fees, facility benefit assessment fees and general plan maintenance fees for the construction of companion units, otherwise known as accessory dwelling units or granny flats.

“One of the fastest and least expensive ways we can increase affordable housing in San Diego is to make it easier to build granny flats,” Mayor Kevin Faulconer said in a press statement. “With these new incentives, we’re removing barriers to encourage the construction of new units that San Diegans can actually afford. This will be another tool we’ll use to tackle our housing needs.”

San Diego is betting big on affordable and low-cost units as more than 70 percent of San Diegans can’t afford to buy a home at the county’s median home cost of more than $550,000. Granny flats have become an increasingly popular option for cities looking to spur the development of housing and provide a more diverse stock of affordable and low-cost units, according to the city.

Last year, San Diego changed the municipal code to implement state mandates reducing requirements for parking and permits as well as further changes to help spur production. A recent study found granny flat permits in San Diego surged 71 percent between 2016 and 2017.

“Companion Units provide a great housing option in the City that we desperately need and today we have move one step closer to increasing the number of these units by reducing the burdensome fees,” Councilmember Scott Sherman stated. “The three barriers to building Companion Units are regulatory ordinance barriers, excessive fees, and ease of permitting. The City has already tackled the ordinance, today has tackled fees, and the only task left for us is to make it easy for San Diego to build these units. In the near future I will be bringing forward a Companion Unit toolkit providing three different designs that will help homeowners easily navigate the development process to achieve our goal of 2,000 to 6,000 new units over the next 10 years.”


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