MONROVIA — Hoping to encourage the building of more housing for senior citizens, the City Council has relaxed regulations for adding on "granny" units in low-density residential zones.
At its Tuesday meeting, the council tentatively adopted an ordinance that eliminates a lot-size requirement and reduces the minimum size allowed for an attached second unit built as a residence for people 55 and older. Such units may not be rented.
Under previous regulations, a lot had to be at least 10,000 square feet for an owner to build a granny unit.
"It's a significant relaxing of standards to provide more opportunities for (senior) housing and still preserve the character of the individual housing zones," said Don Hopper, the city's director of community development.
Bill Van Buskirk, former president of the Monrovia-Duarte Assn. of Realtors and a member of the ad hoc committee that studied the amendments, said it is unclear how many homeowners will take advantage of the new rules.
"It's also a social problem, whether people would invite seniors to live with the family or farm them out," Van Buskirk said.
The apartments will not be available for rent because second units may not be rented out in single-family zones, he said.
Hopper said the city reviewed the regulations because very few people had applied for permission to build granny units.
Another member of the ad hoc committee, real estate agent George Baker, said the changes were long overdue and that the previous regulations were so restrictive that they were unworkable.
"If it's not economically feasible to (build an extra unit), you won't have it," he said.
In the past, a 1,600-square-foot primary house was required in low-density residential zones and an 1,800-square-foot primary home in foothill residential zones before a second unit could be considered. Such a unit had to be at least 500 square feet but could represent no more than a 10% addition to the size of the house. Some or all of a granny unit may be accommodated within the primary house.
With the changes, the granny unit may be as small as 350 square feet and may add as much as 50% to the square footage of the primary residence. Now even owners of homes as small as 700 square feet may add a second unit.
The maximum size of a granny unit remains at 640 square feet. Also unchanged is the stipulation that no more than two people can live there. Kitchen facilities in the units have to be removed once the senior tenants move out.