Ventura Tries to Chain Grannies With Second Units to their Properties

Editorial

 

 

By Camille Harris

Venturans already live in fear of being caught in one of Ventura’s minefield of unenforceable codes, and it’s just about to become more stressful for those who have second units on their properties or plan to build them.

When unenforceable codes are occasionally enforced due to a complaint caused by a neighborhood feud, the enforcement is de facto selective and therefore inequitable. Now Ventura is adding some more unenforceable codes that will make it especially more difficult for seniors with second dwelling units who want to apply for legalization permits. Keep in mind; this is voluntary affordable housing privately financed by citizens who pay property taxes. Compared to “stack and pack” high density housing, it is also a light footprint on our infrastructure.

Due to a serious housing crisis and a “who cares, I’ve got mine” attitude among many about providing housing for the working poor, the state is mandating that cities make it easier for homeowners to provide second units on their properties.  So the state wrote its own second dwelling unit ordinance.

But Ventura decided to make the state’s ordinance even more difficult than their onerous one which already exists.  At the council meeting on January 9, the council attacked the state’s ordinance and added new restrictions.  The council justified this by calling it an “emergency” ordinance for “health and safety” so they would not have to abide by the more reasonable state ordinance. Where was this “health and safety” objection when over 2,000 units were approved over public outcries due to our lack of water?

The most ridiculous requirement that the city council added was that property owners would have to live on the property (until death) in order to have a second unit.  This is terrible for seniors with a second unit.  Seniors who rely on the rental unit income to pay for assisted living will now be denied the right to the income from their own properties. With this “emergency” ordinance, seniors are faced with one of two bad choices: to deny needed care and stay chained to the property, or live in fear of being deemed illegal by living off the property.

When the council was asked what would happen if a senior property owner had to go into assisted living, the council said it would not matter because the city would only find out if there were a complaint.  Ergo, it apparently is only against the law if someone complains. The majority of complaints to code enforcement are from neighborhood feuds, not maintenance issues. Grandma cannot prevent a tenant’s quarrel with a neighbor.

The council states that their concern is that the second unit would go into disrepair if the owner moved out.  It was suggested to the council that if an owner needed to move out of her house, the city could require a professional property manager to see that the second unit is maintained.  This yielded a response about how difficult it would be to oversee this. Really? No oversight is necessary.  If someone complains about the second unit, then the property manager can respond to the complaint. Further, the software system is already in place to monitor this; it’s the same as for a business license.  The property manager simply files an annual form.

Requiring people to stay chained to their properties is another Ventura law that will keep people living in fear. Why not use common sense and create an enforceable process up front that ensures proper maintenance?

This 45 day “emergency” second unit ordinance, that can be extended indefinitely, has nothing to do with health and safety.  It has everything to do with making it more difficult for property owners to have second units.

Second units are affordable housing financed and maintained by private owners at no cost to the public.  The city relishes tax revenue from retail businesses and from our hospitality market, and they must keep in mind that it is the working poor who work in those businesses. We need to give them affordable shelter as opposed to a freeway-jamming, expensive commute.

And by the way, what ever happened to property rights?

Ventura City Hall

Camille Harris is a community activist in the City of Ventura


 

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One Response to Ventura Tries to Chain Grannies With Second Units to their Properties

  1. Danny Lafink January 19, 2017 at 6:54 am

    That’s clever city of Ventura, but IMO it’s frivolous ordinance. No one will abide. Matter of fact, very few will even knOw about the ordinance because aside from this article, I suspect no public outreach and education will be provided.

    Reply

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