City council approves introduction of accessory dwelling unit ordinance


The Encinitas City Council unanimously approved the introduction of an accessory dwelling ordinance, seeking to address the local housing shortage in Encinitas, while providing intergenerational housing opportunities on Feb. 14.

“The goal of this change is to simplify the process for building these units,” explained Mayor Catherine Blakespear. “This certainly isn’t the total solution to our housing needs in Encinitas, but it is a step in the right direction. The more we can aggregate these small wins, the closer we’ll be to providing housing options for all residents in Encinitas.” The second ordinance reading is on March 14, and it will become effective after Coastal Commission approval.

The city will be waiving the fees associated with building detached accessory dwelling units, commonly referred to as “granny flats.” The same will be true for junior accessory dwelling units, created within the footprint of the main house. Other allowances include up to 1,200 square footage, 5-foot side and rear yard setbacks, and waiving parking requirements if within 500 feet of a bus stop.

In a related issue, unpermitted accessory dwelling units are not uncommon in coastal communities, but the Ghost Ship Warehouse fire in Oakland focused attention on the issue. The city is sponsoring Senate Bill 1226, introduced recently by Senator Patricia Bates, which will provide jurisdictions with another tool to encourage property owners to obtain building permits to ensure the safety of these affordable dwelling units. The bill will enable cities to adopt ordinances allowing their building officials to apply the Building Safety Code Standards that were in effect in the year the unpermitted dwelling was constructed.

By encouraging the permitting of new accessory dwelling units, and bringing unpermitted accessory dwelling units up to safety standards, the city is addressing housing and safety needs in a manner that matches the city’s unique community character.

For more information on the accessory dwelling unit or junior accessory dwelling unit regulations, contact the Development Services Department at or call 760-633-2710. You can also visit the department’s public counter at the Encinitas City Hall to learn more.

— Submitted news release