San Diego

La Mesa Moves Toward Softening Granny Flat Regulations

The La Mesa City Council took a big step Tuesday toward adopting a new set of regulations for granny flats in city limits that will, in some cases, make the city’s rules more lenient than state requirements.

Granny Flats are already allowed on properties in La Mesa, but the council voted 5-0 in favor of the first reading of an ordinance that will allow property owners to build Accessory Dwelling Units (ADU) and Junior Accessory Dwelling Units (JADU) on the same lot.

Kerry Kusiak, Director of Community Development for the city, said the proposed rules can provide some income and stability to single-family homeowners, while making it easier for renters to find affordable housing options.

Kusiak says the city wants to make it as easier and cheaper for property owners to build these accessory units.

“We're looking at a permit-ready plan program where we have some pre-approved plans for these types of units,” Kusiak said. In January, The City of Encinitas created the Permit-Ready ADU (PRADU) program that will offer property owners pre-approved building plans for granny flats. 

He says ready-made information will to make it nice and clear to people that, 'This is how it works. This is what you can do.”

The new rules would also benefit people like Jared Basler, the self-proclaimed “Godfather of Granny Flats.”

“I hope that my kids can afford a house someday because I'm still renting,” Basler said from his job site Tuesday. He was erecting a granny flat that he designed himself.

"It's going to be a one-bedroom rental for the property owner,” he said. He said he hopes to have the opportunity to design many more when the ordinance is adopted.

“There's opportunities all along the line for these to make a huge impact,” he added.

Kusiak said La Mesa is no different than the rest of the state in that it needs to come up with new ways to address its housing needs.

In January, the County Board of Supervisors voted to waive fees for residents building accessory units on their property, and last May, the city of San Diego voted unanimously to slash granny flat building fees by more than 60 percent. 

A second reading of the ordinance will be heard next month before the City Council votes to officially adopt the new rules.

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