Have You Been Thinking about Converting Your Garage into a Rental?

If the idea of converting your garage or other structure into an income producing rental unit sounds good to you, you should be happy to know that Pasadena is looking at changing the rules. In part due to recent changes in state laws, the city of Pasadena is taking the first steps towards making this easier than it has been in the past. These changes are intended to affect existing structures only as much stricter rules are set to remain in place for any new construction.

It’s All about Granny Flats

These rentals have long been called “granny flats” as they have typically been used by families as a way to provide a home for their elderly parents. While the city of Pasadena has had rules in place that allow for granny flats since 2004, they are so restrictive that to date only two have been legally constructed since this time.

Members of the city council have expressed an interest in relaxing the current requirements even further. However, they want to wait another five months until the city staff has had time to decide how best to approach this problem.

Planning Director David Reyes had this to say, “This spring we plan on coming forward with a larger effort that will look at the entire ordinance holistically, every aspect of it.” This latest response from Pasadena is the result of new state regulations being put in place including a requirement that municipalities update their own regulations to match those of the state.

Any municipality that fails to do so is at risk of having their ordinances superseded by those of the state that will go into effect in September. The amendment passed by the city of Pasadena on Monday allows the city to hang on to several parts of their own ordinances. The good news is that these changes are likely to allow for more people to have granny flats than at any time in the past 13 years.

What Do the Current Changes Look Like?

The new laws would:

  • Allow for conversion of existing structures such as garages without the requirement of an extra parking space as long as the unit is within 1/2-mile of public transit. This covers over 90 percent of Pasadena.
  • The new state laws voided the requirement that granny flats must have two additional and very expensive parking spots.
  • The amendment covers attached structures such as garages but also covers attached conversions that are part of the home, trailers, and garages provided these structures are up to code.

More Available Housing

For years the city’s focus has been on maintaining its character of neighborhoods full of single family home, but with the new law, this is about to change. Accordingly, anyone whose property measures 15,000 square feet or more could potentially place a trailer in their back yard. At the same time, someone whose property measures less than this could not build a guest house of any kind.

Councilwoman Margaret McAustin had this to say about current standards, ” It’s just not going to give us units, and we talk week after week about the need for affordable housing. This is a way to get it, and we have to embrace it.”

But not everyone agrees, including Mayor Terry Tornek, who had this to say, ”

There will be no more single family zoning effectively anywhere in the state because any single-family house can be converted into a two-family house. The vast majority of the units that are constructed will not be affordable units. The notion that this is going to alleviate our affordable housing circumstance is illusory.”