San Diego County

Chula Vista City Council Mulls Granny Flat Rule Change

Councilmembers acknowledged that these granny-flat style add-ons are not the answer to the city's housing shortage, but said they are part of the solution

Chula Vista could soon make it even easier to build more homes in an area neighbors say is already congested.

The second largest city in San Diego County has been adding hotels, roads and housing in an attempt to manage growth. The city’s population of an estimate 244,000 people in 2010 is expected to grow to 330,000 by 2050, according to the city’s general plan.

The Chula Vista City Council agreed Tuesday to align the city code on secondary residences with newly implemented state laws making it easier for homeowners to build a granny-flat style home alongside a larger house.

The city calls them ADU's or “accessory dwelling units."

The city council proposed an ordinance that calls for slashing building and permit fees by thousands of dollars to increase building incentive. The city said only ten such permit applications were submitted last year.

The provision would allow for more housing when housing is at a premium.

According to a survey on, rent in Chula Vista has increased year over year by 4.8 percent on average.

"I don't think it's going to make a difference because it's up to those people who build those little granny flats how much they're going to ask for," one woman said. She lives on fixed income and is feeling the pinch of high housing costs. "It's not up to how much it's going to cost them to build it."

The Pacific Southwest Association of Realtors sent a letter to the city council applauding the proposed ADU ordinance that read in part:

"Both the Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) and the Junior Accessory Dwelling Unit (JADU) provisions provide flexibility to property owners who want to better utilize their houses to provide living space to students, seniors and others on fixed incomes to have decent places to live."

However, Jill Galvez, a Chula Vista resident since 1992 who is running for a seat on the city council, said her constituents are concerned.

She said they are “Wondering what's in it for me? How is this going to affect my quality of life?”

The biggest concern, Galvez said, is the number of police and firefighters handling the growth of city residents.

Galvez argues there aren’t enough public service employees now.

“We haven't been mindful of our public safety staffing over the past 10 years,” Galvez said.

A half-cent sales tax has been proposed to foot the bill for more police officers and firefighters. Measure A, which could raise $17 million to be split between the city's police and fire departments, will go before voters in June.

Chula Vista's Police Chief Roxana Kennedy is dealing with low staffing levels and high response times in her department. NBC 7's Marianne Kushi sits down with the chief to find out how she is handling the crisis.

Councilmembers acknowledged that these granny-flat style add-ons are not the answer to the city's housing shortage, but said they are part of the solution.

The proposal will go through a second reading and will go into effect 30 days later if approved.

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