Long Beach Considers Reduced Fees, Pre-Approved Designs to Accelerate ADU Production • Long Beach Post News

A recent city memo outlined options the city council could consider to help increase the number of ADUs, commonly known as “Granny Flats,” as the city grapples with a housing shortage that has contributed to the rising cost of rents in the city.

In January, the council requested a program for ADUs as it finalized the city state’s required plan for future housing production known as the Housing Element. The city’s production target by 2029 is 26,500 and city planners have projected that ADUs could play a role in reaching this number.

Planning officials estimate that ADU production in the city could peak at about 500 per year over the next decade and remain at that level for about five years. The city currently receives about 300 ADU requests per year.

To speed up the permitting process and cut costs, the council could consider allowing local designers to submit plans to the city for pre-approval, which could then be sold to homeowners hoping to build a unit in their backyard.

The city could also allow manufactured home companies to submit designs for pre-approval by the city to provide a potentially faster construction phase for homeowners.

However, the projected cost to build an 800-square-foot ADU, the largest allowed in Long Beach, could cost around $220,000 based on 2022 construction prices.

The program would not prevent people from hiring their own designers, but would provide an option for people wishing to streamline the construction of a unit without having to potentially correct potential housing code issues that may exist in plans submitted by their architects.

Director of Development Services Oscar Orci said in the memo that both options could offer advantages because local operators in the area are familiar with Long Beach housing codes and, in either case, would retain ownership of the property. their plans and responsibility for the designs.

Some cities have opted to buy plans from designers and sell them directly to residents, but this option was identified in the memo as a potential legal issue for the city if there were design flaws with the purchased plans. . It would also require the city to buy the plans and likely pass those costs on to residents who want to build.

The city council called for a similar scheme to be developed earlier this year as it sought a more aggressive approach to producing more housing in the city by giving landlords a less bureaucratic and cheaper route to adding to their properties.

The proposed program, which could be presented to city council in the coming months, would reduce some design and engineering fees typically paid by homeowners by 6% to 2%.

Plan review fees, which the city says would typically run into the thousands for an 800-square-foot ADU, would be cut in half.

Further savings would be realized if homeowners sought to build a smaller unit, as state law would exempt them from paying impact fees to support police, fire and park services. This could reduce the cost of a project by around $3,500.

There would still be unavoidable fees assessed by the Long Beach Unified School District, which charges about $4 per square foot of new construction, regardless of the size of an ADU, and a fee to connect the unit to a pipe. disgust. For an 800-square-foot ADU, that could cost $4,564, according to the memo.

After the city council approves a program, it takes the city about six months to sort through the designs submitted for consideration by those wishing to build an ADU with a design pre-approved by the city.

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