“Don’t wait for the bulldozer to tear out your neighbor’s backyard.”

| August 10, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Paul Krueger of Neighbors For A Better San Diego 

That’s the warning I have for homeowners — and renters — from Mission Hills to Fletcher Hills, and Hillcrest to Southcrest. In fact, every neighborhood is at risk from a new and little-known City of San Diego regulation that encourages the rampant construction of Alternative Dwelling Units (ADU) in the backyards of single-family homes.

Sadly, my Talmadge neighbors and I found out too late to stop an absentee landlord from transforming a single-family home on a modest lot into a Frankenstructure. First to go was the attached garage, which will soon be a studio apartment. The modest backyard is now a building pad, from which will spout four more living units, in the form of two, two-story buildings. These investors — who mislead the seller about their intentions, and outbid a family for the property — will also rent out what remains of the house. That’s a total of six units on a single-family lot, in one of our many post- and even pre-war neighborhoods whose sidewalks, streets, freeway access corridors, and water and sewage pipes were designed for single-family homes.

The other developer give-aways are equally bad: under the city’s new ADU regulations, no parking is required for any of the 10 or more additional cars and trucks owned by these new residents, with no disincentives for vehicle ownership and no incentives for using public transit. The builders don’t have to replace any of the landscaping they destroy to make room for these mini-apartment buildings, in direct conflict with the city’s supposed commitment to reducing green-house gases by encouraging the planting of new trees. There are no set-backs required, which allows developers to build right up to neighboring fences.

If that’s not bad enough, the city waived development fees for all these new units, depriving our established neighborhoods of desperately needed improvements to our pockmarked streets and cracked sidewalks, and money for new parks, libraries and other amenities found in new subdivisions.

Worse — and, yes, it gets worse — you and your neighbors won’t get any notice from the city when an application is filed for one of these multi-unit ADUs. No environmental impact study is required. There are no public hearings on the proposed development, and no opportunity for you to voice your concerns about the impact these cookie-cutter additions will have on your life, your street, your neighborhood.

My Talmadge neighborhood was roused to action last April only because one of us happens to routinely check the city’s building permit database, and savvy enough to “break the code” on those permit applications, and understand what the builder, with the city’s encouragement, had in store for that property. We held an impromptu meeting in the Talmadge traffic circle (which doubles as our only neighborhood “park”), and quickly organized Neighbors For A Better San Diego www.nfabsd.org a grass-roots, all-volunteer group that’s trying to repeal the most egregious giveaways in the city’s ADU regulations.

Despite the propaganda you’ll hear from our opponents — most of whom have no knowledge of the actual regulations — our group DOES NOT OPPOSE the construction of an ADU and a smaller, so-called “Junior Accessory Unit,” even without parking, on a single-family lot. That’s what’s required by state law and that’s what we support. We agree that these so-called “granny flats” will provide more housing for San Diegans and can generate additional income for homeowners, which we should all embrace.

What we do oppose is a massive giveaway that enriches developers and land speculators, who are outbidding first-time and move-up buyers, pushing up housing prices while shrinking opportunities for home ownership. And they’re doing it in an irresponsible fashion that totally undermines the city council’s supposed commitment to clean air, alternative transportation, and Climate Action.

Unfortunately, and through no fault of our own, we got to the game late.

You should learn from our lesson. These backyard monstrosities can be built tomorrow on your street, or right next door. You can help stop them now, by learning the facts (we have a complete description of the regulations, with graphic examples on our website), talking with your neighbors, and expressing your opposition directly to your council member and Mayor Todd Gloria.

You can also sign our petition, that urges the city to immediately revise its regulations, and donate to our efforts.

Or you can wait until a bulldozer rips out your neighbor’s backyard, and construction starts on a three, four, five or six unit rental property in your single-family neighborhood.

Neighbors For A Better San Diego, www.nfabsd.org a grass-roots, is an all-volunteer group that’s trying to repeal the most egregious giveaways in the city’s ADU regulations.

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Category: feature, Finance, Government, Local News, Other, Real Estate, Seniors

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