Myth Dispelled: Energy Requirements Not “Mandated” for Ventura’s Granny Flat Program

2ndUnitBy Camille Harris

Ventura added modern energy codes May 1st to their second unit legalization program. This new requirement cut out the majority of Ventura’s granny flats due to the increased cost.  Ventura’s code enforcement management claimed the State gave them no choice, the energy codes were mandated.

A phone call to the state Housing and Community Development Program Manager, Mr. Shawn Huff, revealed Ventura’s claim is incorrect.  When told of Ventura’s interpretation of the codes, Mr. Huff clearly stated  “Your City Attorney is misinformed.”  Mr. Huff went on to say that the Title 24 codes, which include the energy codes, only apply to new construction. The only codes that apply retroactively are safety codes, such as strapping for water heaters and carbon monoxide detectors.

Therefore, Ventura had an un-mandated, very expensive and unnecessary requirement in the 2nd unit program for the past seven months.  The City Council could correct this by extending the program for another seven months with the original requirements.  At the end of the day, all the city needs to do is a safety inspection, collect its fees and issue a certificate of occupancy.

While at it, Ventura may want to fully inform their Latino community on the West side of Ventura about the legalization program to ensure they are not in violation of HUD (Housing & Urban Development) laws for discriminatory land use policies. The Latino community is easily reached through their churches, rather than the primarily “Anglo” community council.

Realtors are concerned because people who planned to apply in the summer for the 2nd unit program were blindsided due to the lack of notice on the new energy requirements, and then were unsure on the city’s ability to be flexible and waive the new codes, meant for new construction. This chilled potential listings and affected property values.

Ventura’s city council has been saying for a long time that they want to restore trust in their local government. Extending the ordinance would ensure fairness and equity and could even restore some trust in the City Council.


Camille Harris is the co-proponent with Helen Yunker for the Safe City Initiative to legalize safe existing housing where permits are missing from the city’s records, for the city of Ventura.

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