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Navigating the Labyrinth of ADU Regulations in Dana Point

Are you planning to add an Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) to your property in Dana Point, California? Understanding the city’s ADU regulations can sometimes feel like traversing a labyrinth. This article explores the journey of Scott Skinner, a Dana Point property owner, who faced challenges while applying for ADU permits and the proposed changes to the ADU ordinance in the city.

Skinner embarked on the process of converting a hobby room into an ADU in his Dana Point property. However, his experience with the ADU regulations in Dana Point was far from smooth. While the City of San Clemente approved his ADU permit application within 60 days, the City of Dana Point presented a different set of hurdles.

Dana Point revised its ADU ordinance in August 2021 to comply with state law. When Skinner submitted his plans to convert the recreation room into a livable unit, he was informed that it was not eligible for an ADU classification, as the city considered it a “livable space.” Skinner disagreed, citing state ADU laws that allow conversions of accessory structures without additional development standards.

ADU Backyard in Los Angeles CA, designed and built by Bossage Homes.

Seeking clarification, Skinner reached out to the state’s Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD). HCD reviewed the city’s ADU ordinance and found it non-compliant with state law, urging the city to amend it. However, when Skinner returned to the city for his ADU permit application, he was told that a site development permit was still required due to the outdated ADU ordinance.

In response to Skinner’s experience and the need to comply with state laws, Dana Point is now considering an amendment to its ADU ordinance. Proposed changes aim to address HCD’s concerns and include modifications to height, parking, setback, location requirements, as well as the discretionary process and deed restrictions.

The Planning Commission has been actively discussing the proposed amendment, acknowledging the severe housing crisis in California and the potential for ADUs to offer affordable housing solutions. Pending the commission’s recommendation, the City Council will consider the amendment during their June 6 meeting.

Understanding the complexities of ADU regulations in Dana Point is essential for homeowners planning to add an ADU to their property. At The ADU Guide, we are here to help you navigate this challenging landscape. Take advantage of our free ADU property check to assess how your property aligns with the current ADU regulations.

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For more information on the ongoing changes in Dana Point’s ADU regulations, you can visit the city’s official website.

This blog post was inspired by the original article written by Breeana Greenberg, which can be found here.


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