Garage apartments presented as affordable housing solution

Orange County is looking to residents to help solve the affordable housing shortage.

Garage apartments, as a means of increasing the affordable housing stock, is what county leaders are considering as part of Mayor Jerry Deming's Housing For All solutions.

"We need to do something about this challenge and this is the mechanism to get us there," said Alberto Vargas, Orange County Planning Manager.

The county looking to do away with the requirement that a tenant must be a relative, allowing a homeowner to rent to anyone. Vargas believes it's a win-win situation.

"It allows for the primary home to become more affordable because you can rent out the garage apartment or the granny flat and it also makes the particular rent price-range to an affordable level," said Vargas.

Orange County resident Greg Gaynor cannot imagine renting out his garage to strangers.

"After all these years, I want my privacy," said Gaynor.

He predicts a list of problems.

"I think it's a pretty rough situation because of the traffic, parking, clientele," said Gaynor.

But the county says something has to be done to address the need.

"This is the formula for success, the formula for the future of growth, if we don't begin to look at it that way, of which the old preconceived idea of not in my back yard continues to dominate how we grow, we won't get there in terms of finding that work for everybody," said Vargas.

"I'm sure economically it would probably be good for people that couldn't afford high-priced rent 12, 14, $1,500 a month," said Gaynor.

The county is aware of issues like parking, it's still ironing out details, so now is the time for residents to speak up with concerns. Several public hearings will be held before this proposal is approved, sometime this fall.