All four resolutions proposed passed and will be addressed by City Council at a later date

ATASCADERO — On Tuesday, Aug. 2, at 6 p.m., the Atascadero Planning Commission met to discuss upcoming revisions on Urban Dwelling Units (UDUs), Urban Lot Splits, and Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs).

“So tonight we’re discussing Accessory Dwelling Units and Urban Dwelling Units,” said Senior Planner Kelly Gleason at the beginning of her Public Hearing presentation. “It’s been a topic of conversation for a couple of years, and we finally have enough legal opinion and have gone through state laws enough to have an idea of where we can go with an ordinance for our municipal code on both of these topics.” 

On Jan. 1, 2021, changes were made to the ADU laws, and SB 9 became effective Jan. 1, 2022. SB 9 is a new state law that requires cities to allow UDUs and Urban Lot Splits on single-family residential properties in designated areas to increase housing. Atascadero adopted an interim ordinance for SB 9 in December 2021.


“A portion of our ordinance is still in effect, but this is an update to that ordinance to ensure that we’re completely compliant with State Law,” Gleason continued.

Two resolutions were recommended. Resolution A: Title 9 zoning would replace Chapter 5, specifically related to ADUs, and Resolution B: Updating Title 9 with the new standard and definitions.

Cities are no longer allowed to charge impact fees or capacity charges for second units that are less than 750 square feet. Units 750 to 1200 square feet get a proportional fee system, which Atascadero has been doing since the law went into effect.

ADUs can be attached or detached from a primary unit. It was recommended that a limit of 1,000 square feet is put on ADUs, with exceptions for larger lots and larger primary units where the ADU is behind the primary unit and 50 percent of that dwelling.

Wastewater and septic have been a concern with ADUs and UDUs, and it was clarified that, though a half-acre per dwelling is needed for septic, each parcel needs one gross acre, which includes easements and roads. But the restrictions to one gross acre are not needed for Junior Accessory Dwelling Units (JADUs), which are additions to existing units.

The council asked the Planning Commission to look into exceptions for land in more rural areas so that they can apply for ADUs in their unique situation. Standards were added to address that situation. 

“So, ADUs, as mentioned, will add to the city’s quota for affordable housing. Half of them will be counted as low and half moderate,” said Gleason.

The additions to the ADU, UDU, and Urban Lot Splits add to the current code, but most issues are already addressed in its rules now.

The state decided to add UDUs and Urban Lot Splits into the mix as well. So, on Jan. 1, 2022, SB 9 took effect.

“In general, what that law said, was basically any single family property now has the ability to construct up to four dwelling units on every property,” Gleason added. “So two primary dwelling units. Your principal house and the new UDU, as well as your ADU and then potential JADU.”

SB 9 only applies to single-family residential lots and allows two primary units on each lot. SB 9 does not apply to the entire city of Atascadero. It is recognized that SB 9 is applied only to urbanized areas. 

Areas of concern for local application of SB 9 include:

  • Areas not served by sewer.
  • Neighborhoods without reasonable secondary emergency egress routes.
  • Properties with average slopes greater than 30%.
  • Properties including creeks, wetlands, or sensitive habitats.
  • Properties in locations of known archaeological resources.
  • Properties that include historic resources.

Urban Lot Splits were also addressed as part of SB 9. These lot splits can only be performed in single-family zoning, and the owner must occupy one of the dwellings for at least three years, with as close to even lot splits as possible.

The Planning Commission Recommendation was for the City Council to approve the updates to various sections of the Municipal Code to accommodate both SB9 and Accessory Dwelling Units.

ADU resolution A passed with a change from three-quarter-acre to a half-acre minimum proposed by Commissioner Victoria Carranza. 

Draft resolution B passed unanimously. 

Resolution A for UDUs also had a change also proposed by Carranza, which adds an exception for smaller parcels surrounded by larger parcels with the same language as recommended for ADUs. Resolution A passed unanimously along with Resolution B.

All four resolutions will be brought before the City Council at a later date.