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Stanton has adopted a new ordinance regulating room additions to homes, speeding up the application process among other changes, adhering to a state mandate that went into effect in January.

Editors’ Note: This dispatch is part of the Voice of OC Youth Media program, working with student journalists to cover public policy issues across Orange County. If you would like to submit your own student media project related to Orange County civics or if you have any response to this work, contact Digital Editor Sonya Quick at squick@voiceofoc.org.

Granny flats or accessory dwelling units and junior accessory dwelling units, in city planning jargon, are secondary additions to a home on a plot of land. While accessory dwelling units are separate and smaller buildings, the junior units are 500 square-foot living spaces within the walls of an existing single-family home, according to a city staff report.  

Over the last five years, the California Legislature has approved new rules that limit local control over the size and location of the secondary units, setting boundaries that in some cases require cities to allow more units than were possible before, the Voice of OC previously reported

The new rules “limits the ability of local jurisdictions to regulate certain development standards such as size, quantity, setbacks etc. The city does maintain authority to adopt objective standards so long as there is no conflict with the updates,” according to Stanton’s staff report.

The City Council in mid-April voted unanimously to give final approval to its new ordinance, which goes into effect in 30 days. During the first reading of the ordinance in March the vote was 4 to 1, with Mayor David Shawver dissenting.

“It’s ridiculous; it’s wrong for the city,” he said during the March meeting.

Shawver said several new businesses, new housing developments, and motels can now all develop these additional units with less local regulation.

“Within the ordinance there is a little bit of flexibility in discretionary control … not approving it would also not adopt that slim discretionary ability for the city to regulate,” City Attorney HongDao Nguyen said in response.

Other cities are also speaking against the new regulations, citing a lack of municipal control. For instance, Garden Grove City Council voted 4 to 3 in February to approve its own additional housing units ordinance.

A complete application for the units is now deemed as approved if a local agency has not responded within 60 days, according to the Stanton staff report. This has been reduced from 120 days, Associate Planner Estefany Franco said during the March meeting.

One addition of each category of units is allowed per lot with approval. Architecture and coloring of these housing additions must match that of the primary dwelling, according to the staff report.

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