Accessory Dwelling Units (more commonly known as “granny flats”) are now permitted in Pacific Palisades and across California.
The state approved an ADU ordinance in January 2017, but accessory dwellings were forbidden in Very High Fire Severity Zones. Pacific Palisades is classified as a VHFS Zone.
The City’s Accessory Dwelling Unit Ordinance (Ord. 186,481) was adopted on December 11, 2019 and became effective on December 19, 2019. That law allowed residents to replace a garage with an apartment unit in VHFSZs, providing it includes fire sprinklers (unless the primary dwelling doesn’t have sprinklers).
Residents do not need to replace their garage, eliminating a potential source of off-street parking. But residents who add an ADU must guarantee parking for the apartment–unless they live a half-mile or less from public transit.
This means that ADU-related parking will not be required along both sides of Sunset — a half-mile in either direction — as it goes through the Palisades. Elsewhere, parking in the driveway will represent guaranteed parking for the ADU.
The City requirements also state that the resident who builds the “granny flat” doesn’t have to live at the primary residence or the accessory dwelling – through 2025. The ADU must also have its own address, different from the primary residence.
An ADU cannot exceed 50 percent of the primary residence up to 1,200 sq. ft. The minimum size allowed is 150 square feet.
One resident asked Circling the News, “I wonder how many granny flats are being built in the Palisades, and what this will ultimately mean to street parking in our neighborhoods?”
Another resident was surprised to learn that the City is allowing “granny flats” in the VHFSZ; he thought the Palisades was exempt.
The Pacific Palisades Community Council has never taken a position regarding “granny flats.” Chris Spitz, the board’s secretary, told CTN on February 23: “There was no consensus, as I recall, when this was discussed at a couple of LUC [Land Use Committee] meetings a few years ago.”
She directed CTN to the pacpalicc.org website, where all positions, letters and motions passed since 2015 are listed.
(Editor’s note: The next time this community is required to evacuate because of a fire danger, and you’re stuck in a long line of cars, all trying to exit on Sunset, Chautauqua or Temescal, thank the City Council for its help in managing density.)