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Council agenda includes update to ADU regulations, contracts for Big Canyon, Goldenrod pedestrian bridge projects


Tonight's council meeting has an interesting variety of items on the agenda. 

During regular business tonight, (Tuesday, Jan. 24), meeting, council will consider a code amendment updating accessory dwelling unit regulations and reconsider an amendment to increase the development limit on Bay Island

On the consent calendar, council will consider: Adopting a license agreement and design plan for phase three of the Big Canyon habitat restoration project; a contract for heating, ventilation and air conditioning replacement for the Mariners Library, Corona del Mar lifeguard substation and the Ben Carlson lifeguard headquarters; a contract for the Goldenrod pedestrian bridge improvement project and hear a report on the status of the Planning Commission’s efforts related to fractional homeownership.

The second public hearing of the night, council will take action on a staff recommended code amendment updating accessory dwelling unit regulations to implement council policy K-4 and to comply with state law that went into effect on January 1.

If approved, the action will modify the city’s planning and zoning title and the implementation plan for the local coastal program. 

Last year, the state adopted another group of housing bills aimed at addressing the housing crisis, including SB 897 and AB 2221, which impose new limits on the city’s ability to regulate ADUs and junior ADUs.

The state legislature intends to further reduce regulatory barriers and costs, streamline the approval process and expand the potential capacity for ADUs in response to California’s housing shortage.

Council agenda includes update to ADU houses and bay

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Photo by Sara Hall

Council will consider a code amendment next week that would update accessory dwelling unit regulations citywide

In an effort to incentivize ADU production, the city adopted a resolution on March 9, 2021, titled “Reducing the Barriers of the Creation of Housing” (council policy K-4). 

“Policy K-4 encourages the development of ADUs as an important strategy to accommodate future growth and is an integral strategy to help meet the city’s Regional Housing Needs Assessment allocation,” the staff report explains. “ADUs allow for a dispersion of density citywide and avoid the need for excessive rezoning and high infrastructure costs associated with new, higher-density developments. Since ADUs tend to be relatively small with modest amenities, they provide more affordable housing options for select groups, such as students, seniors, caretakers and people with disabilities.”

Council later adopted a resolution that initiated the city code and LCP amendments and directed staff to modify regulations related to the development of ADUs.

A Planning Commission ad hoc committee was formed on Sept. 9, 2021, to evaluate potential code amendments related to encouraging new ADU development within the city. The formed recommendations that were shared with the full commission at a study session on July 7. However, due to new ADU legislation that was pending, the commissioners directed staff to delay the amendments, monitor the pending legislation, and incorporate any necessary code revisions needed to comply with new legislation.

Explaining the differences between ADUs and JADUs and comparing existing and proposed regulations, city staff noted that due to the complexity of state law and the different standards that apply depending on the proposed type (i.e., internal, conversion, attached, or detached), the city’s local regulations are also complex.

“To help better explain and communicate the different standards that apply depending on ADU or JADU type, staff has developed two development matrixes that help illustrate the differences,” the report reads. 

The first matrix shows development standards under current standards and the second shows development standards under the proposed amendments.

Council agenda includes update to ADU proposed amendments matrix

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Chart courtesy of City of Newport Beach

A matrix of the development standards under the proposed ADU amendments

Council adopted the 6th Cycle Housing Element update for the 2021-2029 planning period on September 13. Housing Element policy actions 1H (Accessory Dwelling Unit construction) and 1I (Accessory Dwelling Unit monitoring program) establish a target of permitting at least 30 ADUs annually, for a total of at least 240 ADUs constructed by the end of the planning period. The two policy actions also require the city to analyze methods to aggressively support and accommodate ADU construction within 12 months of Housing Element adoption and establish a program within 24 months of adoption. This amendment would help serve to implement these two policy actions.

Some of the major state law changes in ADU/JADU development standards included are related to nonconforming conditions, objective standards, fire sprinklers, 800 square feet of ADU exemption, height limits, parking exceptions, increases the number of detached ADUs allowed with multi-unit dwellings, owner occupancy restrictions and the process. 

Earlier in the meeting, during the study session, council will hear a staff presentation of the inclusionary housing ordinance, its basic requirements and items to consider when drafting an ordinance. An inclusionary housing ordinance would set the minimum requirement for an applicant to provide affordable housing units when proposing a residential project.

Also during regular business, council will reconsider a general plan amendment to increase the development limit for Bay Island.

Council will consider amendments to the general plan, zoning map and coastal zoning map for Bay Island. According to the staff report, the amendments will increase the maximum development limits from 23 dwelling units to 25 dwelling units. The action will also correct the land use maps. The amendments were initiated by Bay Island Club, Inc., which seeks to return development rights, the staff report notes. 

This item was previously heard and approved at the January 10, meeting; however, the agenda item was required to be re-noticed to ensure compliance with the requirements of the Newport Beach Municipal Code.

More than a century ago, Bay Island was established as a recreational club and developed as a residential island over the years. The only access is a pedestrian bridge and no vehicles are allowed on the island. Accordingly, Bay Island has a long history of off-site parking that is provided in a parking garage located at 501 W. Bay Ave.

In 1997, the city council approved a permit that implemented a planned residential development overlay district, which modified the multi-family residential zoning and development regulations for the Island. 

At the time, it created a development plan that included a maximum of 25 residential units (24 single-family building sites plus one residential caretaker site) and authorized off-site parking. The purpose of the permit was to ensure that future development maintains the single-family detached character of Bay Island.

In 2006, council adopted a comprehensive general plan update, which “inadvertently decreased to a maximum of 23 residential dwelling units based on the existing number of dwellings that existed on Bay Island at the time; however, the caretaker’s unit was not taken into account, nor the fact that one dwelling unit is currently constructed over two authorized building sites. Additionally, the land use map inadvertently mapped one building site with an open space designation and conversely mapped areas intended for open space as appropriate for residential use. These errors were subsequently carried over into the Zoning Code and Local Coastal Program.” 

The requested amendments that council will consider tonight are meant to correct the errors.

The council agenda is available online here. The study session will begin at 4 p.m., closed session will follow, and the regular meeting will start at 6:30 p.m.

The meeting can be watched live on the local NBTV channel (Spectrum 3 or Cox 852) or on the city’s website here.

Members of the public may speak in person in council chambers (there is not a remote or online option to participate).

Questions and comments can be submitted in writing for City Council consideration by sending them to the city clerk at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. To give the council adequate time to review comments, written comments were to be submitted by 5 p.m. on January 23 (the day before the City Council meeting). A link to the correspondence received by this deadline was uploaded to the agenda packet by January 23 at 5:30 p.m. and can be viewed here

Material received after the deadline and prior to 2 p.m. today (the day of the meeting) will be provided to the council in hard copy and will be available to the public at the meeting.


Sara Hall covers City Hall and is a regular contributor to Stu News Newport.

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