Rancho Palos Verdes Prefab ADU
On October 3, 2021, Rancho Palos Verdes (RPV) homeowners submitted an application for a 495 sq. ft. prefabricated accessory dwelling unit (ADU) to the city, only to be rejected on architectural standards that cannot legally apply to this project. This prefab unit fits well within the state’s exemption category to which state law dictates that local design requirements may not be applied. Exemption ADUs can be up to 800 sq. ft and 16 ft in height, with 4 feet side and rear yard setbacks.
Like many, the homeowners are trying to plan ahead for their aging parents and decided that building an ADU was a good option for their family. With very busy schedules, they enlisted a full-service prefab ADU company Abodu, a Bay Area company that manages construction and permitting of backyard units, to save time and money and avoid headaches. Abodu managed the permitting process up until Rancho Palos Verdes’s unlawful denial of the permit, after which, they quickly connected the homeowners to legal representation with CaRLA.
The owner’s permit application was entitled to ministerial approval without application of local architecture and design standards as an Exemption ADU under Cal. Gov. Code § 65852.2(e). However, on November 1st, Rancho Palos Verdes deemed the application incomplete with “missing information” and also claimed that the plans did not comply with two aspects of the city’s architectural standards:
- Proposed ADU did not have the required “privacy mitigation measures” in the form of “windows at or above six feet on any facades that face any adjacent properties”.
- Proposed ADU failing to match the architectural style of the primary residence. The city stated “it appears that the main roof of the primary residence has a slope of more than the ¾:1 that is proposed for the ADU. Also, the façade of the primary residence appear [sic] to be painted brick and stucco, while the exterior of the proposed ADUs cedar shiplap. Also, the ADU proposes a metal seam roof, while the main residence has a shingle roof”
On January 11, 2022, the owners reached out to the California Department of Housing and Community Development with concern regarding their application. HCD responded in writing stating “Since your ADUs are <800 sq. ft and <16ft in height, they do fall under subdivision (e) of Government Code section65852.2.(e), meaning local development standards – including the architectural requirements detailed by the city do not apply.” Even with this, the project application was still denied by the city saying their position is still “unchanged.”
It is important to note that RPV did not identify any non-compliance with any building codes or standards, nor did RPV state that the proposed ADU failed to meet the requirements to qualify for ministerial approval as an Exemption ADU. The City’s denial of this application is outright unlawful. The state passed Exemption ADU legislation to prohibit this exact type of denial.
This lawsuit will demonstrate that cities around the state must comply with the requirements for Exemption ADUs in state law. This will pave the way in many jurisdictions for ADUs to avoid costly local development standards. Under state law, every single-family property should be able to add an 800 square foot ADU, and CaRLA is here to make sure no city can avoid this mandate.
Thanks to Gene Novikov and Henry Huttinger at Durie Tangri for partnering pro-bono with us on this case.
Status: Litigation in progress
Filed June 22, 2022 in the Los Angeles County Superior Court
Documents in this case
|2022-06-23 01:14||CaRLA||Rancho Palos Verdes Petition for Writ of Mandate|