50 FAQ ON ACCESSORY APARTMENTS ISSUES 3/17/15

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1 3/17/15 The following are frequently asked questions (FAQ) regarding the issue of accessory apartments in Pleasant Grove. These may be useful to current City Council discussions regarding creating situations for the permitting and regulating of accessory apartments in the community. (AA = accessory apartments) 1. How do we define Accessory Apartments (AA)? Currently, the proposed definition as refined over the years is: Attached: A subordinate dwelling, which has its own eating, sleeping, and sanitation facilities, within or attached to a single-family residential building; or Detached: Within a detached accessory structure associated with a single-family dwelling. 2. How does permitting AA fit with the vision and needs for the community? The vision and needs of the community can be multi-fold, which may or may not support the permitting of AA. It seems to ultimately be a balancing of various visions and determined needs, i.e. a political issue. In the Housing Chapter of the Pleasant Grove City General Plan it states, A key objective for today s housing needs in Pleasant Grove is to provide housing for people of all levels of income, especially those of medium to low income persons. An awareness of the housing needs should be translated into the adoption of ordinances for proper zoning. Also within this chapter are housing goals which may relate to accessory apartments: Adopt various land use options for housing. Preserve the city s integrity of the single family neighborhoods. It may be necessary to establish a current, cohesive vision that defines the inclusion or non-inclusion of AA. 3. Do AA help meet the demands for affordable housing? Accessory apartments are just one of the methods that are available to Pleasant Grove in meeting the state requirements for moderate income housing in the community. Although it appears that the city is in compliance with these requirements, through the various housing options that currently exist, any allowances for accessory apartments will contribute to the City s overall compliance with the State s moderate income housing laws. 1

2 4. Are accessory apartments prohibited throughout Pleasant Grove? No. There are certain zones where AA are permissible, including the Downtown Village, RM-7 and The Grove - Mixed Housing subdistrict. They are not permitted in the other residential or commercial zones. 5. Should having an AA be considered a home owner s property right? Some people feel that it is or should be. Another view is that city zoning dictates what rights exist or may be enjoyed by the owners of properties in various areas. 6. How is an AA different in community impact than a mother-in-law apartment, or a home that houses a large family with several drivers? A family in a single family home with several drivers and many cars could possibly have as much or more impact on parking, traffic and noise issues in the neighborhood as a home with an AA. If the home is big enough to house a large family, with a possible separated living area used by family members, there is not any significant difference from a home with an accessory apartment, beyond the fact that the people in the separate dwelling units may not be related. Other impacts on city services, utilities, impact fees and taxes could be viewed in the same light. Still, studies to roughly estimate such measurements could be (but have not been) performed. 7. Does it matter if people in an AA are related to the home owner? It should not matter unless the measurement of increased services and the loss of fees and taxes (for non-related dwellers only) is deemed necessary. However, the amount of increased services or the loss of potential fees and taxes would not be considered if the people in the same space were related. Apartment dwellers in other situations do not pay property taxes. 8. What reasons are there for permitting or not permitting AA? Reasons suggested for permitting accessory apartments: It provides additional income to homeowners It s already being done; let s legalize it It provides a unique tier of affordable housing (an apartment, but in a neighborhood rather than an apartment complex) It s neighborhood friendly (for the renter) It provides security for elderly homeowners It increases overall population in the city (good for business) It promotes wise land use by increasing density It offers flexibility in living situations Reasons suggested for not permitting accessory apartments: 2

3 It promotes excessive population density (by going beyond existing zoning) It creates parking issues It undermines zoning ordinances, making no such thing as a residential single family zone It creates fire and public safety problems It puts a burden on public services It shows disrespect for non-renting homeowners in residential single family zones It benefits some people, but not the community as a whole It warps the school district s formula for forecasting needs The city collects less per family in property taxes and impact fees 9. Does the City need to adopt more definitive ordinance language regarding AA, whether or not they are to be permitted? Yes. There are many instances where city codes, including the PG City Code, expressly prohibit certain uses to avoid confusion. PG City Code does not expressly prohibit AA, it just does not include them as a permitted use in certain zones. It is recommended that the City Code be amended to either 1) specifically define, regulate and permit AA, or 2) expressly prohibit them in certain zones. 10. Do we need a statistically accurate, community-wide survey performed regarding AA and related issues? Three surveys to date have been performed to garner public input on the AA issue, none of which would be considered statistically accurate. A professional survey firm would need to be hired to perform a statistically accurate survey. Many opportunities have been given over the years for those who have interest or concerns to voice their opinions. There are always many opinions on both sides, although the majority seems to support the permitting of AA. Ultimately, it may be an issue that requires an informed decision to be made based on the facts and needs as they relate to the health, safety and welfare goals of the community, rather than based on the opinions of people with limited awareness of the pertinent facts and issues. 11. What are the results of the public surveys that have been performed? A. Newsletter Survey: February Responses (In the newsletter with instruction to detach and return to the City): 1. Should a homeowner in Pleasant Grove be able to legally rent out a portion of their home as an accessory apartment? Yes = 79% No = 21% 3

4 2. What concerns do you have regarding the ability or inability to have accessory apartments in your neighborhood? No on-street parking 89% Low income 21% Owner occupied 71% Fines for no permit 19% Only 2 or 3 people 62% Gangs and drugs 14% Strict rules and safety 54% Rental permit 13% House set up for it 47% Detrimental tenants 12% Yard kept up 34% Legality / laws regulating 10% Home values 26% Income tax Noise restrictions 24% B. General Plan Survey: October ,295 responses (Mailed with newsletter and available on City Website) 1. Should Accessory Apartments (basement apartments or other secondary dwelling units, part of a single-family home) be allowed in Pleasant Grove? Yes = 77.5% No = 22.5% C. Accessory Apartment Committee Survey: January responses (Announced in newsletter and City website - taken only on website) 1. How important is affordable housing in Pleasant Grove to you? a. Not Important 9.13% b. Somewhat Important 31.85% c. Very Important 59.02% 2. Are you in favor of accessory apartments being allowed within Pleasant Grove? a. Yes 77.42% b. No 22.58% 3. Should accessory apartments require approval and regulation by Pleasant Grove City? a. Yes 55.22% b. No 44.78% 4. How many accessory apartments should be allowed on one property? a. None 17.82% b % c. More than % (as property size and conditions permit) 5. What type of registration with the City should be required for an accessory apartment? a. Free, one-time registration 13.13% b. Paid, one-time registration 06.45% c. Paid, registration renewed yearly 11.49% d. Free, registration renewed yearly 22.16% 4

5 e. Free, registration renewed when property is sold 15.36% f. Paid, registration renewed when property is sold 07.97% g. No registration 23.45% 6. Should a business license be required to operate an accessory apartment? a. Yes 16.82% b. No 83.18% 7. Should home businesses be allowed in accessory apartments? a. Yes 63.56% b. No 36.44% 12. What do other communities allow regarding AA? There is no common situation or way to regulate AA in communities. Comparisons are all over the board, from communities that do not permit AA at all to those that permit them with little to no regulation. Three comparisons over the years have been performed by staff, including in April 2003, March 2010, and February 2015 (See Exhibits #12, 31 and 52). Comparisons can sometimes be informative and helpful. However, it may be more important and logical to determine city code based on the PG community s needs rather than what is permitted in other communities. 13. Why do other cities choose to adopt accessory apartment ordinances? The main reason most cities that permit accessory apartments is to meet the realistic needs for affordable housing and responding to the needs and demands within the community. 14. What is our current policy for enforcement of existing AA situations? On 7/1/2010, the Community Development department suggested and cooperates with the Police Department under the following policy: 1. The creation of new accessory apartments that are not currently in existence or are being utilized as such will be prohibited and/or immediately shut down. 2. Existing accessory apartment situations will be enforced when the City becomes aware of them through complaints that are filed or otherwise made aware of a nuisance situation, a building or fire safety hazard, or information that the property is sold to a new owner. 3. Priority for enforcement of existing situations will occur as follows: 1 st Safety hazards 2 nd Nuisances 3 rd Complaints filed, in order received 4 th Other City awareness situations 4. Enforcement efforts will proceed with the following as a guide: 5

6 a. Determine first if there is any possible exemption or legality. b. Enforce in a manner that is practical and reasonable for those affected. c. Allow up to 6 months for illegal situations to be shut down. d. Investigate all known situations as possible. 5. Appeal: Owners of existing situations that are being enforced may appeal the enforcement determinations through a City-retained Hearings Officer. 15. How much enforcement is needed and what methods should be used? The level of enforcement will depend on the amount of restrictions or requirements that may be adopted into the code. With code regulations, it is anticipated that there will always be some non-compliant situations that will require enforcement. It will be important to determine a proper balance between too much regulation and not enough. Enforcement methods could include initial letters mailed by the Community Development regarding known violations, with an invitation to meet to resolve issues. Hopefully a method can be put into place in the City Code that will allow for some non-compliant situations to be resolved through a conditional use permit process. Additional follow up by the Police Department Code Enforcement Officer will be inevitable. 16. How much will enforcement cost the City? This is an unknown factor, but following the experience of other cities, it will require a larger effort up-front to get the existing known situations reviewed and permitted, or shut down. After this is in place, it will be a matter of dealing with individual applications and responding to complaints of non-permitted apartments. It is possible that additional staff will be needed in both Community Development and the Police Department, but that will need to be reviewed further. It is anticipated that the enforcement follow through will have a greater impact on the Police Code Enforcement Officer, especially at the beginning. After things settle, the enforcement level required will probably go down and then illegal situations will be handled on a complaint basis, as they are now. If enforcement needs become too heavy, the City can review the need and possibility of increasing staff at a later time. Either way, staff believes it is appropriate that an improved method of dealing with current situations is warranted. 17. Will the permitting and enforcement of AA create the need for new personnel? See numbers 15 and 16 above. 6

7 18. What permitting and enforcement issues might arise if we over-regulate AA? Over-regulation can occur if the standards and criteria are so tight that only a few of the existing situations are able to comply. Enforcement needs will become greater and goodwill in the community could suffer. 19. How much AA regulation is too much? Regulations should be focused on health, safety and welfare. Others areas such as design, aesthetics, etc. should not be included. 20. What happens if we choose to not have more enforcement of illegal AA? Ignoring or not responding sufficiently to existing situations can encourage more illegal situations that are not regulated, which could potentially have health, safety and welfare concerns. 21. What happens if we choose to not permit and further regulate AA situations? Existing accessory apartments and their related concerns will not go away. More new illegal situations will continue to occur. 22. Do we know how many existing AA situations there are? No. Without having some kind of registration or permitting system, it is very difficult to know how many there are. However, some previous attempts at estimating have suggested there could be several hundred in the community. 23. How will we handle existing AA situations that may be unable to comply with new regulations? That depends on how non-compliant the situation is. Some situations may need to be shut down, whereas others could ultimately be permitted. A conditional use permit process, which would require a public hearing, is one method of reviewing individual circumstances where certain requirements could be waived with mitigating conditions placed on the approval of some of the non-compliant situations. 24. Should illegal AA situations be assessed a fine? If so, how much? Most agree that fines are necessary for illegal situations. Currently, such illegal situations can be considered a Class B Misdemeanor, which can carry with it a court assessed fine of up to $1,000. In some instances, a fee for each day out of compliance can also be charged. 7

8 25. Should AA be permitted by conditional use approval? An AA that meets all of the code criteria should be a permitted use, based on passing a building inspection. Any criteria that may need to be waived should be done through a conditional use review. 26. Should duplexes and AA be treated the same? This is an important consideration. A duplex requires construction that fully separates the two units, whereas this is not normally required for accessory apartments. Duplexes may or may not have an owner occupying one of the units, whereas this is considered one of the most common requirements for accessory apartments. The ability to have duplexes in a single family zone currently exists if the lot size is twice the minimum required. An accessory apartment in a home allows for doubling the density on the lot. The differing impacts on a neighborhood of having a duplex or a single family home with an accessory apartment are mostly focused on the density issue. 27. Should AA be inspected beyond initial construction / permitting? No. We do not inspect single family homes, duplexes or other apartments after they have been constructed. 28. What requirements for AA should there be to provide for proper life safety? 1- Smoke Detectors Since 1980 smoke detectors have been required in the bedrooms and hallway in new construction and remodeling. Any basement being finished or remodeled is required to install smoke detectors. 2- Egress Windows - An opening of 5.7 sq.ft. has been required since 1975 in all basement bedrooms where there is no a basement level door opening to the outside. This applies to any home where a basement is being finished or remodeled. Egress concerns for fire access would be the same whether it is a finished area of the home or a separate apartment. Older homes are most likely to present an issue for egress and access, where re-sized window openings would be required. 3- Stairway Tread Dimensions Homes with stairways not meeting minimum tread dimensions should be retrofitted to meet current code. Lesser tread dimensions create narrow steep stairways that routinely injure firefighters and make emergency rescue nearly impossible during fire conditions greatly increasing the potential life loss. 4- Separate Address - Apartments should be clearly addressed alerting responding public safety personnel that an additional living unit is present in the structure. We should not make new regulations for AA that are not also required for regular single family homes, with or without finished basements. 8

9 29. Should older, existing AA be required to meet current building codes? Yes, but only those that are also required for a single family home (see #27 above). 30. Should firewall separation be required between the AA and the main dwelling? No. This is required for a duplex, but not normally required for accessory apartments. It is a substantial cost that would need to be required for most existing situations that might cause difficulties for compliance. An accessory apartment is considered a part of the same home and structure, and normally the main dwelling unit is required to have access to it. 31. Should there be a permit / registration fee? If so, how much? A nominal registration fee could make sense for all new situations, to go against the cost of the review of plans. However, it may be best to allow and encourage existing situations to register for free, which may have more successful results. After initial registration we can determine if further review and approval is needed. A conditional use permit approval by the Planning Commission that is sought for situations unable to fully comply with regulations would cost $ Should permitting / registration be renewed? No. Most permits issued by Community Development do not require renewal once approved. Requiring renewals will cause a greater staff effort to manage and enforce. 33. Should impact fees for AA be charged with the building permit? No. Impact fees are charged already for the development of the home, anticipating an occupancy load to handle the services. The argument that there is an additional density caused by an accessory apartment and an increase in the use of services could be also be applied to a single family home that has a large family. A family with 8 kids and several cars does not pay more impact fees for roads, parks, etc., than a couple in a similarly sized home without any kids. Impact fees are initially charged based on the size of the home. If the home is expanded or the basement is finished for family uses, no additional impact fees are charged. A mother in-law or other family members could move in and increase the occupancy of the home, comparable to additional renters of an accessory apartment. Accessory apartments are normally occupied by small families, and often rented by owners who do not have a large family in the home, so the actual increased density and use of services may not be a real or valid concern. 9

10 34. Can we identify the impacts of taxes and utility fees not paid by AA? This is very difficult to do. Since it is an apartment, the impacts should be looked at similarly to those of other apartments in the community. In various apartment situations, taxes are not paid by the renters. Utilities impact fees are paid by the owner or developer, and the renter normally pays for utility services. 35. Should AA be allowed in certain residential zones and not others? This is currently the situation, where they are allowed in the RM-7, Downtown Village and Grove - Mixed Housing zones. It would be challenging to otherwise justify a split of residential zones that do or do not allow accessory apartments. 36. Should detached AA be permitted? In certain zones only? An accessory apartment that is above a detached garage does not necessarily have any different impact to the neighborhood than one that is in a basement. Existing setback requirements for accessory buildings will regulate whether there is enough room on the lot for a detached situation. 37. Should there be a minimum lot size for homes with an AA? It could be justifiable to limit the approval of accessory apartments to properties that meet a minimum lot size, however this will most likely not work for many existing situations. 38. Should the number of permitted AA in a neighborhood or zone be limited? It would be very challenging to manage a program of the amount of existing and potential new situations that could occur in a certain area. Also, determining the boundaries of certain areas doesn t assist with the actual spread of locations, since the majority of accessory apartments approved in one area could be adjacent to a majority of the same in another area. 39. Should a home permitted for an AA be owner occupied? Yes. This is a common requirement that most communities allowing accessory apartments seem to have. The on-sight oversight of the home owner seems to be an effective way, in most cases, to assure a more positive and successful situation than what could occur if both dwellings were rented. 40. How many people should be permitted to occupy an AA? The best way to limit residential occupancy is to follow the legal definition of a family in the City Code, which is: 10

11 A. One person living alone; or B. Two (2) or more persons all related by blood, by marriage, by adoption, by legal guardianship or foster children and up to two (2) other unrelated persons who do not pay rent or give other consideration for the privilege of staying with the family; or C. Up to four (4) related and/or unrelated persons living as a single housekeeping unit. 41. Should more than 1 apartment be permitted in/with a home if conditions permit? No. An argument can be made for allowing more than 1 apartment if the lot size is sufficient, enough off-street parking is provided, etc. However, this has the potential in some instances to create an apartment building out of a large single family home and have impacts on services larger than were planned for with the construction of the home. The impact of increased density and services with one apartment can more easily be justified, but it becomes more difficult with additional units. 42. Should separate exterior entrances be required for each dwelling unit? Yes, for safety and good emergency access reasons. 43. How much off-street parking should be required for homes with an AA? Two off street parking spaces per dwelling unit should be provided. 44. Should the AA unit size be limited to not exceed a percentage of the home? This is a method to potentially limit the density increase in the home and the neighborhood, as well as the demand for increased services. This may not work for some existing situations. 45. Should the total number of bedrooms in an AA be limited? This is another method to potentially limit the density increase in the home and the neighborhood, as well as the demand for increased services. This may not work for some existing situations. 46. What living areas should be required in an AA? Previous ordinance proposals based on studies have suggested that accessory apartments should provide living areas for eating, sleeping and sanitation facilities separate from the principal dwelling unit. 47. Should separate utility meters be required for each dwelling unit? Separate meters are a good idea, but it may not be necessary to require. However, if there are separate meters for each dwelling, all utility meters should be in the 11

12 property owner's name and the property owner should be responsible for payment of all utilities. 48. Should an interior access between dwelling units be maintained? Yes, for safety and access reasons. 49. What do other cities permit or regulate with AA? Comparisons with other cities were performed in 2003, 2010, and See Exhibits #10, 29 and Who served on the recent accessory apartment committee and what did they do? The Committee was made up of members of the Neighborhood Committee and representatives, including Alicia Redding, Don Paas, Elaine Bonham, Jenny Faires, Libby Flegal, Michael Cardwell, Pete Blake, Peter Tolan, Roland Shannon, Shelly Harper, and Steven Moon. The committee has been great about getting out in their respective neighborhoods and talking to people about the issue. They've provided some excellent feedback from residents that has shaped the proposed ordinance. They have reviewed the older proposed ordinance from 2010 and have recommended revisions (see Exhibit #48, Proposed Ordinance Provisions). 12

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