Pismo attempts to balance less stringent ADU regulations with need for parking

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Pismo Beach is updating its requirements for accessory dwelling units (ADUs), but city staff say new state laws aimed at making it easier for people to build ADUs is likely to compound Pismo’s long-standing parking problems.

At a meeting on Oct. 6, Pismo Beach City Council voted 4-1 to introduce changes to the city’s ordinances regarding ADUs, which, if passed, would bring Pismo into compliance with state law.

BALANCING NEEDS The Pismo Beach City Council is looking at ADU ordinance changes that would bring the city into compliance with state law. - FILE PHOTO BY JAYSON MELLOM
  • FILE PHOTO BY JAYSON MELLOM
  • BALANCING NEEDS The Pismo Beach City Council is looking at ADU ordinance changes that would bring the city into compliance with state law.
Pismo last updated its ADU ordinances in August 2018, but since then, Gov. Gavin Newsom approved legislation that further removes barriers and costs associated with ADUs. Pismo Community Development Director Jeff Winklepleck said that new legislation went into effect on Jan. 1, making Pismo’s current ordinances regarding ADUs inapplicable.



“In fact, in speaking with the various staff from HCD [California Department of Housing and Community Development],” Winklepleck said, “our current ordinance is null and void.”

The state now requires that ADUs and junior ADUs be considered through a ministerial process—eliminating the need for public hearings—and that applications are either approved or denied within 60 days. The city can’t require property owners to live in their ADUs or primary structures until 2025, and ADUs can’t be used as short-term rentals, although Planning Manager Matt Downing said any existing ADUs used as short-term rentals would be grandfathered in.

Most importantly, Downing said, Pismo’s existing parking requirements and 5,000-square-foot minimum site size for ADUs are no longer allowable.

The state no longer requires designated ADU parking spaces in a number of circumstances, which Downing said has the potential to cause further congestion in a town plagued by a lack of street parking for both visitors and residents.

So city staff are proposing that Pismo require one parking space per bedroom, up to a max of two spaces, for ADUs in the coastal zone. Outside the coastal zone, city staff proposed one space per unit. None would be required for junior ADUs in any zone. But according to state law, Downing said ADUs within a half-mile of a bus stop aren’t required to provide designated parking at all.

“The bad news about that is basically all of our city is located within one half a mile of a bus stop,” he said at the meeting on Oct. 6.

To ensure that visitors can find adequate parking in Pismo and Shell Beach, parking spaces would still be required for ADUs in the coastal zone that are west of Highway 101 and within a quarter-mile of a coastal access point, a segment of a coastal trail, a coastal park, or a coastal view area.

But Councilmember Marcia Guthrie, who voted against the proposed changes, said it’s not necessarily homeowners who are to blame for Pismo’s parking problems. It shouldn’t fall on them to provide adequate parking, she said, when hotels and other commercial developers aren’t doing their part.

“It seems like the onus of responsibility is falling on the homeowner time and time again,” Guthrie told New Times.



While Guthrie said she supports the effort to make it easier for people to build ADUs, she doesn’t like the proposed parking requirements.

“Until the weight of parking is spread out equally among all applicants,” she said at the Oct. 6 meeting, “I don’t think I can support the parking portion of this.” ∆

—Kasey Bubnash

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