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County streamlines approval process to make adding guest homes easier

County streamlines approval process to make adding guest homes easier

Author: SuperUser Account/Wednesday, December 3, 2014/Categories: Uncategorized, Living, Government

Riverside County today (Tuesday) cut away some red tape for homeowners who want to build guest homes and other accessory structures on their property, and at the same time helped address some countywide housing needs.

On Tuesday, the Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a family- and business-friendly amendment to the county zoning and land-use ordinance. The changes allow property owners on lots with a single-family home to add a second unit or detached accessory building without having to submit a plot plan or other permit applications before getting a building permit. That can be a long, costly process because of permit fees and because the reviews sometimes would be required on projects such as carports, patio covers and storage buildings. Under the changes, the allowable size of a second unit would range from 1,200 square feet on lots up to 20,000 square feet to a maximum of 2,500 square feet – or twice the size of the existing home – on lots larger than four acres.  The cost of processing a plot plan for an accessory building could previously run a few thousand dollars. 

Supervisor John J. Benoit said the amendment helps residents in communities like Mecca and Thermal, where reasonable projects will benefit from lower fees and a streamlined system, without changing setbacks and other building requirements.

“It is important because it simplifies the process and makes it easier for residents to build secondary structures on their property,” Benoit said.

Supervisor Kevin Jeffries praised the changes, noting that they will be particularly helpful for families trying to accommodate children who remain in the home longer, or those who bring aging grandparents into their homes. The change is a matter of maintaining standards while relaxing procedures, he said.

The revisions are intended to streamline the bureaucracy for some projects, reduce costs, help contribute to the local economy and add to the local job base. In addition, the amendment changes the amount of time in which an approved business must begin construction. Previously, businesses had to initiate development within two years of approval or seek an extension. That posed challenges during economic downturns or when it was difficult to obtain financing. The changes remove the time limits but still require a business owner to apply for a building permit before construction begins.

The changes take effect in 30 days.

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