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Home » Archives » November 2005 » Public Participation Plan Set For ADU Ordinance

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11/02/2005: "Public Participation Plan Set For ADU Ordinance"


ig_Guest-House-01 (41k image)(File photo)

(Example of a legal guest house that will become "non-conforming" and would be illegal to build on the property under the proposed ordinance)

The ongoing struggle to resolve the ADU (Accessory Dwelling Unit) -commonly called guest houses- will soon reach a point where the public will be able to comment on the County's plan to resolve it. The BOCC will be asking the public to review and comment on a controversial ordinance that was agreed to by the BOCC and The Friends of the San Juans, outside of any public participation, and against the strongly delivered advice of their own attorney ( "BOCC Ignores PA Advice, Stays Guesthouse lawsuit" ).

Leaving aside the question of the BOCC have held discussions that excluded the public when they worked out the details of the new proposed ordinance, there are a number of questions about these details that, based on the past public process, may well be raised again in the new round of public hearings. Some of the details in the new ordinance are clearly in response to complains, such as the prohibition on renting out guest houses on a short term basis, thereby removing them as potential low income housing. But there are other regulations that were discussed and excluded when the original, and current, regulations were accepted, that have now shown up once again, some of which -according to past testimony- will restrict the construction of guesthouses both in number and location, and would, like the short term rental problem, decrease the potential number of affordable housing units in the county.

There is also the big question that some members of the public and county staff are already asking that will not be part of the new hearings: Is this all a waste of time that will simply lead to a new round of appeals and law suits if the proposed ordinance is passed, or will the BOCC follow the advice of their lawyers and let the current legal process proceed without the BOCC second guessing their attorneys?


The Public Process

While the County has an adequate set of regulations to allow public input, the ADU participation plan is intended to "supplement the San Juan County public participation requirements for plan and regulations amendments...to do it right' with an informed and involved public while working within the parameters of the Growth Management Board decision to achieve compliance."

The intent of the plan is:

● To make the code current and compliant with Growth Board standards under the GMA (Growth Management Board)
● To satisfy density and environmental concerns related to permitting of new ADUs
● To improve its implementation;
● To incorporate new information, changes in law, correction of errors, and clarification of intent.

The Proposed Accessory Dwelling Unit Ordinance that the BOCC & The Friends of the San Juans agreed to, contains certain "elements for Code Revisions", which include:

● Some detached ADUs are allowed in the Rural and Resource lands;
● Minimum parcel size;
● Protection of rural character;
● Uses of Detached ADUs, and
● Shoreline Conditional Use and Substantial Development Permits
● Definitions

The good news for the those who oppose The Proposed Accessory Dwelling Unit Ordinance is the commitment in the Public participation Plan that the Code Revision elements listed above are to be seen as starting points, and "shall not limit the county or its citizens fro addressing other items directly related if other things arise that are germane to addressing the items ..provided that GMB compliance is met".

The BOCC has adopted the following schedule for the adoption of amendments related to ADUs:

The CD&PD will continue to work on a draft of the proposed changes and on:

December 16, 2005 the PC (Planning Commission) will hold a workshop and review the draft, and accept both verbal and written comment on the draft.

January 2006 (date to be set): Changes -if any- made to the 12-16-05 draft are to be presented to the PC for their approval, then PC again to accept verbal and written comment on the draft and any changes made to it.

February 2006 (date to be set) Formal PC Public Hearing, followed by PC deliberations and recommendations to the BOCC.

March 2006 (date to be set) BOCC Public Hearing, Deliberations, and then adoption of the changes.

At the end of the meeting Bob Myhr was joined by the other Commissioners in expressing their support of the public having an opportunity to comment on the proposed changes.

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