Nevada County supervisors prohibit using ‘granny units’ for short-term rentals |

Nevada County supervisors prohibit using ‘granny units’ for short-term rentals

Nevada County District 4 Supervisor Sue Hoek (right) expressed concerns with the changes proposed to the County's accessory dwelling unit ordinance, despite the proposed change's efforts to ensure more affordable housing units during Tuesday's board meeting. Despite concerns, supervisors approved the changes 5-0.
Elias Funez/

NEVADA CITY, Calif. — Owners of “granny units” can’t turn them into short-term rentals under new rules recently passed by the Nevada County Board of Supervisors.

Supervisors made the change, one of many to the county’s accessory dwelling unit ordinance, in their attempt to bring more affordable housing here. Other tweaks include removing a requirement that the property owner live on land with a granny unit, as well as defer certain fees, if the unit meets specific requirements.

The changes become effective in 30 days.

“I don’t see this guaranteeing affordable housing,” Supervisor Sue Hoek said in a March 26 meeting, noting that the restriction of short-term rentals — the government interfering in property rights — concerns her.

Supervisor Ed Scofield also had concerns, though both he and Hoek joined the other three supervisors to unanimously pass the new ordinance.

“I think we’re on the right track here,” Supervisor Dan Miller said.

Under the new rules a granny unit — called by county officials an accessory dwelling unit — built after the ordinance change cannot be rented for under 30 days, unless it’s in the Soda Springs Rural Center or qualifies for agritourism activities. Supervisors are deferring to Truckee’s regulations if the property falls within that town’s sphere of influence.

Accessory units in Grass Valley and Nevada City’s spheres of influence aren’t exempt, and may not be rented short-term.

Both the accessory unit and the primary home can be rented, though only accessory units are restricted from short-term. The property owner is no longer required to live on site.

Property owners can defer road and sewer mitigation fees, along with permit costs, if they either restrict their property to very low or low income renters or have a unit that’s under 800 square feet.

Additionally, the change to the ordinance clarifies existing language that requires accessory dwelling units to have a separate septic tank.

Existing accessory dwelling units are grandfathered from the more restrictive requirements like short-term rentals and septic tanks.

Teresa Dietrich, with the Nevada County Association of Realtors, praised supervisors for updating their ordinance.

“I’m really worried a lot of our seniors are going to be forced out of their homes,” she told supervisors during public comment, referencing rising home insurance rates.

Alta Sierra resident Lee French questioned the need for accessory dwelling units in what he called a county with a falling population.

“Are we creating a problem with empty buildings due to the lack of jobs and people coming?” French asked.

Don Bessee, with the Alta Sierra Property Owners Association, said some rentals in his neighborhood have become virtual hotels. He urged supervisors to not allow the short-term rental of primary residences.

However, supervisors opted to adopt the new ordinance as presented.

“Smaller units are going to be more affordable,” Supervisor Richard Anderson said.

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