Novato will slash fees for in-law units and other secondary dwellings by half in an attempt to encourage more people to build them on their properties.
The move is aimed at satisfying the state’s affordable housing requirement without building new apartment complexes while generating additional revenue for the city.
“We believe that accessory units make sense since they have less overall impacts than a full-sized home and are typically rented at rates affordable to low and very-low income folks,” said Bob Brown, Novato’s community development director.
Under state requirements, Novato needs to demonstrate that at least 20 percent of its housing is affordable and the so-called accessory units count toward this goal.
The move, approved at Tuesday’s council meeting, will reduce the planning application fee from $1,500 to $747 and impact fees from $14,135 to $7,041. Over the years, Novato’s fees for secondary dwelling units have been some of the highest in Marin County, costing the same as fees for a single-family home.
As a result few residents have stepped forward to build them, with only nine such units built over the past five years, according to the city.
The next step is convincing the North Marin Water District Board and the Novato Sanitary District to reduce their fees, to make the whole process more enticing for residents. Mayor Pat Eklund and Vice Mayor Eric Lucan will soon meet with each board to press the city’s case.
“We feel accessory dwelling units make a lot of sense for the community and the cost of their services needs to be lowered,” Eklund said Tuesday.
SOUND OFF: What’s your take? Do you support the move to reduce application fees for secondary units? And do you think more of them should be built throughout Novato as a way to satisfy the affordable housing requirement? We want to hear your thoughts.