The state has loosened restrictions for people looking to build a second unit on their property under new rules designed to ease the affordable-housing crisis.

The process is geared to be faster, less onerous — parking can’t be required in most instances, for example — and almost certainly cheaper.

The new state regulations are set to go into effect Jan. 1, leaving cities across Ventura County scrambling to update their existing ordinances on what are now being called accessory dwelling units.

How significant the changes might be will depend on a municipality’s current regulations.

The new process can’t involve a use permit, won’t require planning commission or city council approval as long as it fits within the new regulations and must be completed within 120 days. Approval is nondiscretionary, according to the companion bills, Senate Bill 1069 and Assembly Bill 2299, which Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law in September.

Why do we have to provide housing?

In Ventura, it means the units, which can be added to an existing residence or be detached, can be bigger and the setbacks smaller. The city can’t, in most cases, charge a water or sewer connection fee or require a new connection.

Ventura is reviewing each of its 17 second-unit standards.

“Most of those are going to have to go away or be revised,” city Planning Manager Dave Ward said.

The new law allows detached units to be up to 1,200 square feet, compared to the 750 square feet Ventura currently allows. Units attached to existing residences can be up to 50 percent of the residence’s living area, compared to the maximum 30 percent set by the city.

In Thousand Oaks, detached accessory units were banned altogether, and attached units could be no bigger than 499 square feet. The unit also had to have one covered parking space per bedroom, said Mark Towne, the city’s director of community development.

“Our first read is, they will significantly change the standards,” Towne said.

Oxnard’s rules in most cases required an enclosed-garage parking space for an accessory unit. The Oxnard City Council will vote on adopting an updated ordinance to reflect the new state rules at its meeting Tuesday.

Arlene Martinez ,, 805-437-0262Published 10:03 a.m. PT Dec. 10, 2016

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