Council updates ADU ordinance, okays wine at Laemmle

by Matthew Bramlett

The Claremont City Council passed amendments last week meant to make building accessory dwelling units, or ADUs, a lot easier.

ADUs, also known as back houses or granny flats, are smaller, secondary houses built on a property that can be rented out. In the midst of an ongoing housing and affordability crisis in California, the proliferation of ADUs can help alleviate those concerns.

Claremont spent over a year crafting its own set of regulations, including allowing ADUs no larger than 700 square feet on residential properties. But three state bills were signed into law in October 2019, freeing up regulations even more and forcing the city to go back to the drawing board.

Chief among the changes was size—the city is now mandated to approve ADUs of at least 800 square feet for one-bedrooms and 1,000 square feet for two bedrooms, regardless of lot size.

Four types of ADUs are now allowed to be built by-right—ADUs built within existing structures such as garages, new ADUs detached from the home, ADUs built within spaces previously not made for living (such as boiler rooms) and detached ADUs on multi-family properties.

Gone also is the owner-occupancy requirement and the “discretionary” approval path through the city’s commissions.

“I think this is really going to open up the door to a lot more ADU proposals in this community, which I think will be very interesting to see,” Claremont planner Nikola Hlady said to the council.

The draft ordinance has already been sent to the California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) for review, but it has not yet given a response, Mr. Hlady said. If one part of the city’s ordinance doesn’t comply with the state’s new laws, it would have to be redrawn with corrections.

City Attorney Alisha Patterson said there wasn’t a timeline for the state to get back to the city, and noted there was currently one employee at HCD reviewing all California cities’ ADU ordinances.

“I think there’s a pretty big back log,” she said.

Ms. Patterson told the council that the city would be enforcing its ADU ordinance unless the state comes back with comments stating otherwise.

Councilmember Corey Calaycay told the crowd in attendance, most of whom were present for the sheriff contract consideration, that they should be aware of mandates from the state such as this one.

“A lot of these mandates are taking away local control to the point that we wouldn’t have public comment about opinions on our development, because we won’t have the control to decide one way or another,” he said. “The state will make that decision for us.”

The council passed the amendments unanimously.


Laemmle gets approval for beer and wine sales

Claremont film fans will soon have the option of having a beer or a glass of wine with their movie.

The city council passed a group of revisions to the Village Expansion Plan that will allow Laemmle Theaters to sell beer and wine. Principal Planner Chris Veirs noted the option of serving alcohol at movie theaters has become increasingly common, with theaters trying to compete with home theaters and streaming services.

Of the several nearby theaters in the area, half of them serve alcohol, Mr. Veirs said, including Laemmle’s nearest competitor, Edwards La Verne.

The city wasn’t worried about the serving of alcohol at Laemmle leading to uncouth behavior, with Mr. Veirs noting that the theater serves a “relatively sophisticated” audience that knows how to responsibly consume beer and wine.

Other revisions to the plan include allowing video arcades to operate on the ground floor of the Packing House. Lost Levels already operates on the ground floor, but Mr. Veirs explained that the arcade initially represented themselves as more of a video game seller.

“But as it turns out they’re really operating as more of an arcade,” he added. “So that’s why we’re here, so we can make this more allowable.”

The revisions also allow for “creative instructional uses” on the ground floor as well. Alcohol may be served in these spaces with a conditional use permit.

The idea, Mr. Veirs said, was to allow for uses such as single-session cooking schools or “paint and sip” businesses, where patrons can drink wine while taking an art class.

The next council meeting is on Tuesday, February 25.


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