Second Unit Amnesty Program- Sierra Madre approach relevant to Ventura

Venturans have been fighting Ventura bureaucracy and oppression over "granny flats"-- remedy here?

SecondUnitVtaBy  Camille Harris

Date: Thu, Jan 2, 2014 at 8:15 PM

Sierra Madre is a city that walks its talk to save existing low income housing and keep people safe in their homes. Sierra Madre’s 2nd unit amnesty program was done with a resolution, like the one written and recommended in the final report of the Ventura Safe Housing Collaborative. Sierra Madre: A City Council Resolution instead of an onerous ordinance, no new building permit required, only an amnesty permit, no impact fees since primary home had paid them already, no energy code requirements since structure was already built, no charge for a second unit permit, no threats of criminalization, fixit and upgrade permits are at half price. The parameters were established by their Chief Building Officer who truly wanted safety and to preserve low income housing.

And it turns out that the Ventura staff was incorrect in advising the city council that the state would not accept existing second units as part of the state required Housing Element, only new units.  Sierra Madre used their previously unpermitted second units to comply with the state’s mandate for cities to provide low income housing, and the HCD approved their Housing Element.

Meanwhile, Ventura continues to twist and turn their ordinance into an maze of confusion.

 Relevant Sierra Madre documents obtained:

Second_Unit_Amnesty_Program_Summary (Sierra Madre, CA)

Second_Unit_Survey (Sierra Madre- 2008-14 Housing Element)

Second_Unit_Intro_Letter (Sierra Madre)





———- Forwarded message ———-
From: Leticia Cardoso
Date: Thu, Jan 2, 2014 at 4:17 PM
Subject: Sierra Madre Second Unit Amnesty Program
To: Camille Harris

Hi, Camille,

Per our conversation, I have attached various documents pertaining to our Second Unit Amnesty Program.  Hopefully these will help answer your questions regarding the program for City of Ventura.

Please let me know if you have any questions.


Leticia Cardoso, AICP

Senior Planner

City of Sierra Madre

232 W. Sierra Madre Blvd.

Sierra Madre, CA  91024

Phone: (626)355-7138

Fax: (626)355-2251


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.


Previous relevant CJ article by Camille Harris:

Relevant materials:

  1. [PDF]

    Second Unit Amnesty Program Summary – City of Sierra Madre…/5-development-services-documents?…sec

    Purpose. Sierra Madre is initiating a Second Unit Amnesty. Program for a six month period, from October 2012 to. March 2013. Second units have been 

  2. [PDF]

    second unit amnesty application process – City of Sierra Madre…/5-development-services-documents?…sec

    A Second Unit Amnesty Permit is required to legalize an existing second unit constructed  Amnesty permit applications that meet the City’s Amnesty criteria are.

  3. Safe Housing | City Of Ventura

    The 2nd Unit Amnesty Permit Program makes it easier for the owners of unpermitted second dwelling units to bring them into compliance with building and 

  4. Second Unit Amnesty Program – Marin County…

    County of Marin: Community Development Agency Second Unit Amnesty Program Community Development Agency – Second Unit Amnesty Program.

  5. Ventura extends second-unit amnesty program » Ventura County Star…/ventura-extends-amnesty-program-on-secondunits/

    Dec 18, 2013 – Ventura plans to work to educate the community about the second unit amnesty program.

3 Responses to Second Unit Amnesty Program- Sierra Madre approach relevant to Ventura

  1. William "Bill" Hicks January 4, 2014 at 10:20 am

    Has anyone approached Ventura City Council, as a reporter from this newsletter, with this information? If so, what was their response?
    A videod conversation might be a good tool.

    • Citizen Reporter January 4, 2014 at 10:41 pm

      Camille is our freelancer on this subject and yes, she HAS! Read her previous article.


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