BoS Takes Next Step to Loosen Some Building Rules in Coastal Zone

Nov 7, 2019

November 7, 2019 — The Board of Supervisors held a hearing this week to submit a local coastal plan amendment to the California Coastal Commission to establish regulations for additional dwelling units (ADUs) in the coastal zone. The proposed ordinance is to allow ministerial permits for up to 500 ADUs, in an area that has been off-limits to such construction since 1985. This is an effort to come into compliance with new state laws to make it easier to build affordable places to live. Ordinarily, building in the coastal zone requires a coastal development permit, which involves extensive and often costly levels of review. 

After a 4-0 vote in favor of the proposal (with Supervisor John McCowen absent), the proposed ordinance is now its way to the Coastal Commission, where it is subject to expedited review, which means that body will get to it in four to six months.

Public comment during the Board of Supervisors meeting, held in the Parish Hall of Saint Anthony’s Church in the Village of Mendocino on November 5, was overwhelmingly supportive of opening up opportunities to build affordable housing in the coastal zone. The proposed ordinance does not allow ADUs or junior ADUs (basically a small room with an efficiency kitchen, completely contained within a single-family dwelling) to be used as vacation rentals. This provision was opposed by a representative of the coastal Mendocino Association of Realtors, which otherwise supports the proposal.

And with construction costs on the coast estimated at $350-$500 a foot and much of the coastal zone still considered an environmentally sensitive habitat area (ESHA), it remains to be seen how many property owners will take advantage of the new provisions.