Changes to Nevada County land use code could make second units easier to build | TheUnion.com
Matthew Pera
Staff Writer

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Changes to Nevada County land use code could make second units easier to build

Nevada County homeowners hoping to increase affordable housing opportunities for renters, or maximize the affordability of their own home, may soon have an easier path toward building second units on their properties.

That's what the county planning department hopes, as it proposes to amend the county's land use and development code to comply with new state laws that loosen restrictions on what are now referred to as "accessory dwelling units."

The new state laws, AB2299 and SB1069, which took effect in January, could help address a statewide housing crisis that has resulted in negative environmental impacts and a reduced quality of life for some residents, according to the California Department of Housing and Community Development.

Nevada County's proposed land use and development code amendments would increase the allowable size of accessory dwelling units that are attached to a property's main house. The current building ordinance limits the size of an attached unit to no greater than 30 percent of the existing residence floor area, but an amendment propose increasing that size to 50 percent.

Amendments would also eliminate building setback requirements for homeowners wishing to convert legally permitted garages or other accessory structures into accessory dwelling units. A minimum distance of five feet from property boundaries would be required for those wishing to construct accessory dwelling units above legally existing garages or structures.

Parking spaces for accessory dwelling units would be required depending on the number of bedrooms they contain. A one-bedroom unit would require one space, and the maximum number of spaces required would be two. Exceptions would be granted to properties located within a half mile of public transportation or a quarter mile of a car-share vehicle, within a historic district, or units located within a primary residence.

Planning department staff is also proposing amendments to its transitional and supportive housing ordinance. It proposes allowing transitional and supportive housing for the homeless as a residential use of property subject to the same regulations and permitting requirements that apply to other residential dwellings of the same type in the same zoning district.

Patrick Dobbs, senior planner for the Nevada County Planning Department, said the proposed amendments are intended to "simplify and streamline" the processes of building accessory dwelling units and transitional housing, which align with the county's goals of meeting the housing development needs of its residents.

"The state continues to simplify these regulations and try to make them easier," he said, adding that the county is following suit.

The Nevada County Planning Commission is scheduled hold a public hearing discussing the land use amendments at its July 13 meeting at 1:30 p.m. at the Board of Supervisors Chambers, 950 Maidu Avenue, Nevada City.

To contact Staff Writer Matthew Pera, email mpera@theunion.com or call 530-477-4231.