The garage-turned-residence issue in the city took on new urgency when 17-year-old Luke Upton, a Newport Harbor High School student, died after being pulled from a burning converted garage in February.
The commission is considering a three-pronged approach.
First, the city could implement a self-certification program that would apply to complexes with three to 16 units. Property owners would have to submit paperwork certifying their garages aren't doubling as apartments and would pay a fee.
Emily Osterberg, director of public affairs for the Apartment Assn. of Orange County, said her constituents would accept a $1 or $2 fee, but property owners would resist having to pay more.
Second, only new apartment complexes would be allowed to have carports and existing complexes would be prohibited from converting them into garages. Existing and new apartment complexes would also be restricted from installing a door leading from the garage to the inside of the apartment, essentially making residents walk outside and open the garage from the front.
Third, the city would launch a public information campaign and distribute fliers highlighting the many issues linked to converted garages, including less parking, more trash, haphazard electrical wiring and other dangers.
Monday's consideration will be the first step in the process. The commission needs to send any proposed changes the program to the City Council, which would then amend it and send it back to the commission for finalization. The commission would then send a final draft back to the council, which would then vote on enacting it as law.
— Amber Gonzales contributed to this report