DATE: February 21, 2001

TO: Planning Commission

FROM: Teri Camery, Planner
Community Development Department

FILE NO.: TXT2001-00002

PROPOSAL: An ordinance (Serial No. 2000-40) to amend the Land Use Code to authorize the Director of Community Development to approve accessory apartment permits

BACKGROUND

This ordinance simplifies the process for reviewing and approving accessory apartments and changes minor provisions of the code that have been a hindrance in developing accessory apartments.

The current accessory apartment ordinance was implemented in April 1994. Since this time, the Planning Commission has reviewed and approved a large number of accessory apartments. Apartments that pass initial staff review and meet the standards of the code have rarely met any public opposition and almost always fall under the Consent Agenda for immediate approval. In addition, the Assembly recently passed a resolution supporting affordable housing in Juneau (See Attachment A).

The history of non-controversial approval of apartments, in combination with a well-known need for affordable housing, has prompted introduction of this revision to simplify the approval process and thereby promote development of more accessory apartments.

The existing ordinance is designed to promote affordable housing while preserving the character of single-family neighborhoods. It achieves this by mandating extra parking, allowing only one front entrance, and requiring compliance with all other provisions of the code applicable to single-family dwellings. None of these requirements have been altered in the proposed revision.

ANALYSIS

Approval

The proposed revision allows accessory apartments to be approved by the CDD Director instead of the Planning Commission, except under special conditions which are noted later in this report.

Zones

The proposed revision allows accessory apartments in all zones except Industrial and Waterfront Industrial. Accessory apartments are currently allowed as caretaker's apartments in these zones with a Conditional Use permit.

Maximum Apartment Size, Section 3 (A)

Staff has reviewed approximately 15 local ordinances regarding accessory apartments and found that a 600 square feet maximum apartment size is typical of most. Only one city was found to have a larger size, while several were smaller. We believe 600 square feet is a good number because it keeps rental costs down and limits the number of tenants to two people, thereby minimizing impacts to the neighborhood and staying within parking requirements. Therefore this provision of the original ordinance has not been altered. Text has been added to formalize staff policy stating that areas common to more than one dwelling shall not be included in the calculation of square footage.

Location and Required Lot Size, Section 3 (B)

In Section 3 (B) (i), text has been altered to allow accessory apartments within single-family dwellings on lots not less than 100 percent of that required for a single-family dwelling in that zoning district. In the current ordinance, accessory apartments have been allowed only on lots that are within 100-150% of the minimum lot size. This has had the effect of prohibiting individuals with large lots from developing accessory apartments. The lot size maximum has been lifted while retaining the minimum size so that apartments cannot be developed on sub-standard lots.

In Section 3 (B) (ii), text has been altered to ensure that accessory apartments are developed within common walls only when the common-wall meets the lot size requirement of a detached single-family dwelling. Inserting the word "detached" ensures that accessory apartments will be developed only on full-size lots and therefore preserve the character of single-family neighborhoods.

In Section 3 (B) (iv) text changes require that detached accessory apartments within the D-5 zone be approved through the Conditional Use process. This has been changed from the variance process required in the current code. The Conditional Use process, with its wider scope of analysis and greater neighborhood public notice, is more appropriate since the issue with detached accessory apartments is preserving the character of single-family neighborhoods.

Permit Requirements, Section (C)

Section C affirms that all parking and entrance standards and building code requirements in the current ordinance must still be established.

Application Process, Section (D)

Section D outlines the application process and required items for submission.

Public Notice, Section (E)

Section E requires notice to each adjacent property owner and allows a ten-day comment period. If significant issues are raised within this time, the application shall be heard through the Conditional Use process.

COMPREHENSIVE PLAN

The Comprehensive Plan supports the provision of housing opportunities in two policies.

Policy 2.8 reads:

  • It is the policy of the City and Borough of Juneau to encourage and facilitate provision of a variety of housing opportunities in sufficient quantities and at affordable prices, to meet the housing needs of its residents. Provision of an adequate supply of housing for low and moderate income families is a top priority.
  • Policy 5.1 reads:

  • It is the policy of the CBJ to facilitate availability of sufficient land with adequate public facilities and services for a range of housing types and densities to enable the public and private sectors to provide housing opportunities for all CBJ residents.
  • RECOMMENDATION

    We recommend that the Planning Commission recommend to the Assembly the adoption of TX2001-0002, Ordinance Serial No. 2000-40, an ordinance amending the Land Use Code to authorize the Director of Community Development to approve accessory apartment use permits.