city of san diego

Mid City Neighbors Adding Signatures to Petition Against New ‘Granny Flat' Policy

Some residents are concerned about so-called granny flats degrading their neighborhoods

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Near the corner of 49th Street and Adams Avenue sits a home that Talmadge residents are concerned could soon present a problem. That’s because permits have been pulled for the property to build multiple Additional Dwelling Units (ADUs), commonly  known as “granny flats.”

“They’ve taken a good idea and dialed it up to 11 and created a situation instead of having an ADU or 2, you can have 4, 8, 10 even, according to the regulations,” said a frustrated David Moty.

He’s one of the hundreds of Mid City residents who've signed the "Neighbors For a Better San Diego" petition.

And before you wonder who could be against granny flats, member Kathy McClelland cleared up any confusion.

“We are completely not opposed to that. What we are opposed to is multi-unit apartment buildings in backyard areas.”

“Neighbors For a Better San Diego" is hoping the city will pause its policy allowing what they call "mini-apartment conversions" from being built until a more thoughtful plan is constructed.

A plan they hope won't make parking, transit and other issues worse.

That’s far more density than this neighborhood was ever built for, infrastructured for or ever anticipated. We’re in serious infrastructure straights now and this would make it infinitely worse," Moty said.

McClelland added, “For all of the climate action issues the city says its devoted to, it actually jeopardizes all those efforts.”

In October of 2020, the city of San Diego made changes to its zoning policy in transit priority areas.

Changes that allow property owners to build extra units on their property if they agree to rent restrictions on at least one unit and the property is within a half-mile of an existing or planned transit line.

Petitioners in the Mid City neighborhoods argue locations along El Cajon Boulevard or University Avenue, just steps away from public transportation, are better ideas.

Case in point, a vacant lot near 52nd Street and University Avenue. A missed opportunity, some say, because it's permitted to become a self-storage center.

In a statement, the city said it's required to incentivize ADU's.

"Over the years, the state has enacted dozens of laws regarding Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) and Junior ADUs. The City is implementing state law, including the requirement to incentive affordable ADUs. ADUs and JADUs are an effective, successful source of naturally occurring affordable housing," the city said.

But Moty saud the policy allows that affordable housing to be gobbled up by developers.

“The most profitable sites for development, small starter homes, would most likely be their first purchase, so you've cut the bottom rung out of the market."

Mayor Todd Gloria, who has been a champion for affordable housing, said there needs to be a willingness to think outside of the box in every neighborhood.

“Our housing crisis is not a problem that we entered into overnight, nor will it be solved overnight," Gloria said in a statement. "We can’t continue to approach the housing issue the way we have in the past. My administration is aggressively working on policies that will bring remedies to this crisis, which needs our innovative thinking and willingness to build homes in every neighborhood so the young people growing up in our city right now can stay in our city.”

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