Solana Beach approves accessory dwelling units ordinance

Solana Beach City Council members approved an accessory dwelling unit ordinance on Nov. 29 with a provision that deed-restricts them as lower income housing for 25 years.

The council had previously considered a deed restriction of up to 99 years, but felt it would disincentivize homeowners from building them.

“I think we might see more residents being willing to deed restrict their ADU if it were for basically a generation, instead of an entire lifetime,” Solana Beach Mayor Lesa Heebner said during the meeting.

With the state government turning to ADUs to help alleviate the housing crisis, cities have been modifying their local ADU laws to try to maximize the benefits and implement design standards – although many aspects of the state laws override the local control that cities have on ADU policy.

The Solana Beach ordinance includes update definitions for accessory dwelling units and junior accessory dwelling units, modifications to height limits that are consistent with state law, and other clarifications in the Solana Beach municipal code. The ordinance also eliminates a ban on ADUs on properties within environmentally-sensitive habitat areas, the Hillside Overlay Zone, and the Very High Fire Hazard Severity Zone, according to the city staff report.

Cities such as Solana Beach and Del Mar have also been talking about how to best use new ADUs to meet their state-mandated housing goals. Through the sixth cycle Regional Housing Needs Allocation, the city of Solana Beach has to provide zoning for 875 new housing units across all income levels.

According to a city staff report, 31 ADUs have been built in Solana Beach from 2020 to 2022. None have been constructed in 2023, but three permits were issued and another 22 are under review. The report also says that the city is on pace to permit 70% more ADUs than expected for the city’s housing element.