An ADU is an additional living unit with kitchen, bathroom, and sleeping facilities in addition to those of a main residence. It may be physically attached or detached from the primary residence. Also known variously as “granny units”, “second units”, or “carriage houses”, ADU’s provide opportunity to use what may be surplus space on a residential lot to house in-laws or relatives, or to provide supplementary income to make one’s mortgage more affordable. This article outlines a general process for creating an ADU. Whether or not you will need all of the steps outlined depends on the scope of your project and the city or county area you live in. Also, please note that while the steps are presented in an order that may be useful to you, you may need to adjust the order of the steps to make it fit your particular situation. Continue reading
The California Coastal Commission is a state agency with quasi-judicial regulatory oversight over land use and public access in the California coastal zone. The Commission’s mission is “To protect, conserve, restore, and enhance the environment of the California coastline”. The Commission was established in 1972 by voter initiative via Proposition 20, initiated in part in response to the controversy surrounding the development of Sea Ranch, a planned coastal community in Sonoma County. Sea Ranch and other similar coastal projects of that era prompted the formation of activist groups whose efforts eventually led to putting Proposition 20 on the ballot.
Development activities are broadly defined to include construction of buildings, divisions of land, and activities that change the intensity of use of land. Development usually requires a Coastal Development Permit from either the Coastal Commission or local government. The Coastal Zone is described as the area from the Mean High Tide Line to a distance of between a couple of hundred feet in urban areas, to up to several miles in rural areas.
The Commission is the primary agency which issues Coastal Development Permits. However, once a local agency puts in place a Local Coastal Program (LCP) certified by the Commission, that local agency takes over the responsibility for issuing Coastal Development Permits. A Local Coastal Program (LCP) is composed of a Land Use Plan and an Implementation Plan. A Land Use Plan details the Land Uses permissible within the local jurisdiction’s area, specifying the general policies applicable to each Land Use. The Implementation Plan is responsible for implementing the policies contained in the Land Use Plan. The Implementation Plan is generally a part of a city’s zoning ordinance.
Coastal Zone Regulation, County of Santa Cruz:
In Santa Cruz County this zone extends about five miles inland from the North Coast. From Natural Bridges to 41st Avenue in Capitola, it extends about 0.6 miles inland. From Capitola to the south County boundary, it extends to Highway One.
Within this Zone, any person who wishes to do any sort of land development must obtain a Level 5 development permit. “Development” includes:
• Construction, reconstruction, alteration, or demolition.
• Grading, removing, placement, and extraction of earth material.
• Subdivision and minor land division.
• Change in the density or intensity of land use.
• Harvesting major vegetation, except for agriculture and timber harvesting.
Coastal Commission proceeding in the County of Santa Cruz are administered as Level-V application and heard in Public Hearing by the Zoning Administrator. For more information see: https://www.sccoplanning.com/PlanningHome/ZoningDevelopment/DevelopmentPermits/Level5ZoningAdministratorPermits/CoastalPermits/CoastalZonePermits.aspx
Coastal Zone Regulation in City of Santa Cruz:
The City of Santa Cruz has a fully certified local coastal program. Applications are processed either by administrative review or, if necessary, before the City’s Planning Commission. For more information go to: https://www.cityofsantacruz.com/government/about-us/general-plan
Coastal Zone Regulation in City of Capitola:
The City of Capitola has a fully certified local coastal program. Applications are processed through the Planning Department’s discretionary permit process administered by the City’s Department of Community Development and if necessary, heard by the Planning Commission. Additional information go to: http://www.cityofcapitola.org/general/page/community-development-home
Coastal Zone Regulation in Monterey County:
The Local Coastal Plan for the County of Monterey was written in conjunction with a citizen’s advisory committee and adopted by the Board of Supervisors as part of the the County’s Zoning Ordinance. Because the County of Monterey’s Coastal Plan has been certified by the State of California Coastal Commission, the County is authorized to issue Coastal Permits. Implementation is through the County’s Regional Management Agency (RMA): https://www.co.monterey.ca.us/government/departments-i-z/resource-management-agency/planning
Coastal Zone Regulation in City of Marina:
The City of Marina has a fully certified local coastal program. For information about Marina’s local coastal land use plan go to: http://www.ci.marina.ca.us/index.aspx?NID=171
Coastal Zone Regulation in Sand City:
Sand City has a fully certified local coastal program. For information go to: http://www.sandcity.org/government/departments/Planning.aspx
Coastal Zone Regulation in City of Seaside:
City of Seaside has recently implemented a local coastal program in accordance with California Coastal Commission requirements: https://www.ci.seaside.ca.us/272/Local-Coastal-Program
Coastal Zone Regulation in City of Monterey:
City of Monterey has recently implemented a local coastal program in accordance with California Coastal Commission requirements: https://www.co.monterey.ca.us/government/departments-i-z/resource-management-agency-rma-/planning/application-process-forms-fees/permit-process/coastal-development-permit
Coastal Zone Regulation in City of Pacific Grove:
The City of Pacific Grove does not currently have a local coastal program in place. Coastal permit applications within City limits are referred to the regional California Coastal Commission. The City has an implementation plan located at: https://www.cityofpacificgrove.org/sites/default/files/general-documents/local-coastal-program/pg-ip_feb-2017.pdf
Coastal Zone Regulation in City of Carmel:
The City of Carmel has a fully certified local coastal program. Carmel-By-The-Sea’s Local Coastal Program (LCP) was certified by the Coastal Commission in 2004. The link to the City’s Coastal Land Use Plan is at: http://www.coastal.ca.gov/sc/carmel-rev-lup.pdf
As with many things in life, the timing of your construction project can be critical to its success. Construction tends to be a seasonally-driven industry, with the prevailing goal being to avoid breaking ground during the winter rainy season. This is not a hard-and-fast rule of course – there are notable exceptions which we will discuss. To best understand the ins-and-outs of project scheduling, this article will outline the design process, from selecting your design team, to how permit processing can impact your project schedule, to ball-parking how long it takes to build a construction project. Continue reading
Santa Cruz County Planning Department indicates that it is committed to an expedited and streamlined process, to ensure that our community can rebuild as quickly as possible. The Department indicates that the immediate first step is for it to conduct Assessments regarding basic infrastructure and property status before an Owner can begin planning for rebuilding. County staff, in coordination with Cal Fire, are in process of assessing public and private infrastructure and are working hard to assess properties as quickly as possible. Continue reading
Navigating the building permit process can be thought of as one of the more onerous tasks a homeowner or builder will carry out or, with proper preparation, a necessary task to be carried out relatively effortlessly and with minimal stress. Whether you are a homeowner who prepared your own plans, one who has hired a drafting service and is now doing the legwork necessary to submitting for building permits, or a building contractor who prepared drawings for that homeowner and now is submitting an application on their behalf, here are 10 tips to help your permit intake meeting go smoothly and efficiently. Continue reading
On May 9, 2018, the California Energy Commission adopted the 2019 Title 24, Part 6 Energy Code updates that will take effect January 1, 2020. Key changes for new residential and non-residential projects include mandatory residential PV, new requirements for HERS testing, and updates to non-residential standards. Continue reading
Santa Cruz County has recently implemented new, more relaxed development standards intended to make building an Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) easier and more affordable. Towards this end it’s published three guidebook resources, Santa Cruz County ADU Basics, ADU Financing Guide, and ADU Design Guide. This article outlines the County’s ADU Design Guide. Continue reading
Do you need a building permit?
Spoiler: You probably do, unless you’re only doing cosmetic interior upgrades, like painting or updating your kitchen faucet. Any time you are adding square footage, making structural modifications, or significantly altering other building components, you’ll need to obtain a permit. Continue reading
No matter where you live – Santa Cruz, Monterey, the Peninsula, or for that matter anywhere in California- if you are considering building an ADU your first concern will be feasibility: will this project pencil out? In this article we discuss considerations when deciding whether to invest in constructing a rental unit on one’s property.
Is an ADU a Good Investment?
Even with ADUs gaining popularity, the value an ADU adds to a given piece of property is hard to calculate. This can make determining whether an ADU is a “good investment” difficult. You may not know whether it is a good investment until you sell the property (which may be many years down the road.) Determining whether an ADU is a good investment is also going to depend heavily on the investor’s (your) financial situation and goals. Continue reading
When Should You Start Designing Your Project?
If you’re planning an all interior project, you can start any time! The sooner you start, the sooner you’ll have your house in the condition you want it to be, and the sooner you can start enjoying it. If you’re contemplating an addition or exterior alteration, it’s ideal to start planning your project early, but that’s not a hard-and-fast requirement. Starting early will give you and your architect sufficient time to develop the design and drawings on a more relaxed schedule, submit your project for Planning Department approval, and negotiate a contract with your contractor. Continue reading