Complications converting 4 unit into 6 unit Inglewood, CA
I own a multifamily property in Inglewood, CA. It was originally built as a 6 unit ( 6x 2br) in the 1960s. In the late 80's the owner converted it into 4 units (2x2br 2x5br) in order to get a conventional loan refi. I want to convert it back to 6 units.
1. Parking. The city in years prior stated that I could not due to parking requirement changes. Their laws state I need 2 park spots per unit. There is no way to add parking. I have familiarized myself with AB2097 which reduces parking requirements for development projects. Is a conversion/rehab considered a development project and falls under AB2097?
2. Density. The City is stating that density requirements limit the unit count to 1 per 1400ft of the lot. This would make the max unit count 4 units.
I can perhaps argue the parking requirements don't apply but I don't know how to get around the density requirement.
Perhaps I can convert half of each 5-br unit into a storage room (non-liveable space) and then convert that space into an ADU. But ADU count is limited to 25% of the as-built unit count which would mean I could only add 1 ADU, not 2.
Any thoughts on this and how I can reach a solution?
1. Based on our experience in LA City, I think that AB 2097 would apply whenever you are adding units (whether that be through alteration, addition, or new construction). However, you need to make sure that the property in question really does sit within a 1/2 mile of public transit, per whatever definition Inglewood has set for public transit.
I don't see a clear definition from the state on what constitutes public transit, which makes this tricky. Here's an example from LA City showing why it's tricky: In LA City, for AB 2097, the LADBS determines "public transit" using their Transit Oriented Communities map, which has a more convoluted way of determining what counts as a "public transit" stop. However, for ADU parking requirements, they just let measure 1/2 mile to any sort of transit stop. The former applies to far less properties than the latter.
2. I would love to be wrong on this, but my understanding is that you can't grandfather any nonconforming condition that has already been remedied to make it conforming.
In terms of the ADU, I'm reading Inglewood's guidance and it seems to contradict the state law. In short, the state says you should be able to build 2 detached units.
The state laws say that a multifamily property can have 2 detached ADUs, regardless of the unit count on the site. The 25% limit only applies to conversions of portions of multifam structures not used as livable space. (See page 20 of the 2022 HCD ADU Handbook and 65852.2(e)(1)(D) of the CA Gov Code)
Inglewood's "ADU/JADU Development Standards" PDF says that the 25% rule applies to detached ADUs...
So, Inglewood might put up a bit of a fight, but I don't think they can stop you from building, say, a detached duplex w/ 2 ADUs, especially if each ADU is <800 sq ft.
Firstly, thank you so much for the very helpful and informative reply.
1. Good to know that AB 2097 would likely apply. Regarding a definition of public transit, it is within 1/2m of a bus stop but I don't see any public-oriented community maps for Inglewood. Hopefully, they would use the more loose definition of public transit.
2. Yes, I agree and understand that I can't grandfather any non-conforming condition that is already conforming. One related question: The building files for the original conversion from 6 to 4 units shows building permits with final signatures on them. But there is no C of O for the project. Is a C of O a requirement for the project to be complete? Could I argue that without the C of O, this project was never completed and is still a 6-unit building?
3. Unfortunately these ADUs would be attached; accordingly, the 25% limit would apply. The Inglewood ADU Development Standards shows the limit for attached ADUs as 25% of unit count. (most left column under "Attached to Primary Residence")
4. I'd be looking to convert half of the 5br units into non-liveable storage space. Then subsequently apply for that storage space to be converted to an ADU. Given the 25% unit count cap, I may only be able to do this for one of the 5br units.
5. There is no room to build a detached ADU unless I converted the carport and used that area. It would increase rental units but I'd worry that having no on-site parking and congested street parking would make it tough to find quality tenants.
I have a zoom meeting with the senior planner on Friday. I need to get a game plan solidified to what path I want to fight for.
Thanks again for your time and knowledge.
@Zachary Freeman Happy to help
1. That seems promising! I would ask whoever you speak with at the city to confirm, but it sounds like AB 2097 will apply.
2. Sorry, I am not sure on this one. If you discuss this with someone more knowledgeable, I'd be interested to hear what you learn. My hunch is that it depends on the city/inspector, but that a signed final permit would be pretty strong evidence that the modifications were made to the property... I would love to be wrong though.
3, 5. Too bad that they have to be attached. Any chance you would just rebuild the carport and add a second story w/ 2 units on top? It might be difficult to squeeze 2 stories in under the height limit, and to make the added second story conform to the required setbacks, but it's not impossible.
4. This process sounds tricky -- both from a permitting perspective and from a spatial/design perspective -- but powerful if you can make it work. Definitely share some updates if the city says they will allow it + you decide to proceed!
The city literature stated they will only allow one detached ADU above the carport but after a call with the city they said they would allow 2 as the CA state laws read.
Im pursuing your suggestion of building 2 above the carport. Just trying to make sure the increased build costs are worth it.
Thanks for the help.