Housing element OK'd for review

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By ERIN MAYES

Owners by next year likely will be able to rent apartments inside their homes without meeting Tuolumne County density requirements.

The apartments or "granny units" would be allowed as long as the house itself is not expanded from the outside. This would come in handy for people who want to rent a room in their home or perhaps have elderly relatives live there.

The Tuolumne County Board of Supervisors Planning Committee made this revision to the Draft Housing Element at its meeting yesterday. Committee members come from county organizations, including the Board of Supervisors and the various county planning commissions.

They decided to give the Community Development Department the go-ahead to forward the Housing Element draft on to the planning commissions for review. Then it will go to the Board of Supervisors for final approval before the end of the year.

The county is under a Dec. 31, 2003, deadline to update its Housing Element to accommodate population growth projected through mid-2007.

The "granny unit" amendment was backed by Voter's Choice, a limited-growth citizens' group, which had been lobbying for a change in the existing ordinance.

That law allows two homes to be built on agricultural land of 10, 20 or 37 acres or maximum 800-square-foot granny units on lots zoned for single family homes as long as land met the density requirement.

Those regulations will remain unchanged, but home owners will no longer need to meet a density requirement if building a granny unit inside an existing house.

Included in the draft is an implementation program for inclusionary ordinance zoning, which would require developers who are building five or more units to make from 10 to 20 percent of those units available to very low-income, low-income and moderate-income buyers. The exact percentage of units that would need to be made available will be determined by the committee next year.

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