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Planners recommend granny flats for Ripon
granny flat

They’re called mother-in-law quarters or granny flats.

To homebuilders and state lawmakers, they’re referred to as Accessory Dwelling Units or ADUs.

The Ripon Planning Commission last week gave the OK on the staff recommendations to the City Council, approving the chapter amendments to the ordinance on Accessory Dwelling Units, including eliminating the part on second-story ADUs while adding the verbiage for the placement of addresses to the backyard units.

The latter was not in the original proposal but was discussed with the Ripon Consolidated Fire District as a way to place the location of the Junior Accessory Dwelling Unit or ADU, according to Planning Director Ken Zuidervaart.

Commissioners are hoping that the possibility of more ADUs – in this case, converting a detached garage or building one from the ground up – will not take away from the quality of the neighborhoods.

Recent legislative acts have been favorable towards second dwelling units – two enacted in 2017 authorized local governments to not only permit junior accessory dwelling units but to encourage the construction of smaller units, which could be a more affordable housing options for seniors, young adults, and others affected by the state’s housing shortage.

The City of Ripon amended the existing second dwelling unit ordinance in 2018 to comply with the new state law.

At beginning of last year, more changes came to ADU laws.

“The goal has been to incorporate all the mandated state requirements with the intent of reducing and preserving to the fullest extent possible Ripon’s single-family neighborhoods,” Zuidervaart said.

He added that staff has worked diligently with the City Attorney’s office to address the new mandates regarding ADUs.

“While the ordinance is a little cumbersome to navigate, staff put together a spreadsheet, addressing and explaining the changes in an effort to simplify the mandated changes,” said Zuidervaart.

Added City Attorney Tom Terpstra: “We had it stripped down to the bare minimum.”

Those recent changes allowed for those residing in the smaller structure to share the use of bathrooms in the main house. “(ADUs) can have a bathroom but it’s no longer required,” Zuidervaart said.

He also indicated that owners, for the most part, no longer have to live on the premises and that the new laws even allow for multiple ADUs – three single-story units at the most, but still must be in compliance with building code standards and an owner, in this case, would be required to live there – on that same property.

The revised state law regarding ADUs, since 2017, was put in to improve the effectiveness in creating more housing units by loosening local regulations.

“State mandated changes to ADU laws effective Jan. 1, 2020 were meant to further reduce barriers, better streamline approval processes, and expand capacity to accommodate the development of these units,” Zuidervaart said.