Pasadena Urged to Purge Poison Pills from ADU Reform Ordinance

Pasadena is adopting accessory dwelling unit (ADU) reform in response to state legislation designed to spur affordable housing options by easing restrictions on ADUs. But is it really entrenchment dressed as reform?

1 minute read

January 30, 2017, 12:00 PM PST

By wadams92101

[Updated February 1, 2017] In a second open letter to the Pasadena City Council on the topic of accessory dwelling unit regulation reform, Los Angeles planner Jonathan P. Bell urges the elimination of what he calls "poison pills," which bar an increase in ADU construction on a practical level. Among other things, under the new ordinance, ADUs:

  • Are restricted to properties of at least 15,000
  • Are barred over garages on single story buildings (via a 17 foot height limit)
  • May not be visible from the street
Bell argues that the findings supporting the adoption of the Pasadena's ordinance are simply and obviously erroneous. He further explains how the new ordinance, by limiting ADU to unrealistically narrow circumstances, essentially creates a black market in illegal housing and residents. This in turn, creates safety and other problems. The matter is coming again before the City Council on January 30, 2017.  

Pasadena's accessory dwelling unit reform is in response to state legislation easing restrictions on ADU's to spur affordable housing options. Bell's letter is both detailed and compelling. It is instructive not just for Pasadena, but for all municipalities and persons interested in the subject. 

[The post has been updated at the request of the original author. An earlier version identified the 30-day rental term in the ordinance as a "limit" of 30 days, which was incorrect.]

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