Lawsuit Targets Granny Flat Law Compliance in California

A real estate group claims the city has been denying and delaying ADU permits in violation of city and state laws.

2 minute read

January 25, 2021, 12:00 PM PST

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

A real estate group is suing Coronado, a resort town in the San Diego Bay, for allegedly violating the city's own Accessory Dwelling Unit law by denying or delaying permits for new 'granny flats,' reports Phillip Molnar for the San Diego Union-Tribune.

The California Association of Realtors, who brought the suit through its associated non-profit Californians for Homeownership, claims that "it completed a nine-month investigation of applications for accessory dwelling units, often called granny flats, and found Coronado had a policy on the books to approve applications — but had been denying them anyway." A spokesperson for the city denied the allegations, asserting that no permits were denied to applications that complied with city and state regulations. She accused the California Association of Realtors of "exploit[ing] perceived loopholes created by state law that would allow them to create super-sized, single-family homes that sell for a premium."

Californians for Homeownership insists that Coronado created unnecessary roadblocks to granny flat construction, leading some builders to abandon the projects altogether in a community where more housing is desperately needed. "Coronado is one of the most expensive communities in the region and could benefit greatly from lower-cost rentals in the form of granny flats." The organization points to an email from Coronado Community Development Director Richard Grunow in which he states that "the applicant had to fully complete the construction of a new house before work on the granny flat could begin," a policy that violates state and city ADU laws and increases the cost of construction. Granny flat construction is growing in popularity as a policy that lets cities increase density and build more housing units without radically altering neighborhood character.

Thursday, January 21, 2021 in San Diego Union-Tribune

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