Ben Nurse

Seaside’s new housing program manager Ben Nurse stands in front of a city owned property that will be renovated and have an ADU built in the backyard. 

Let the free-for-all begin. There’s suddenly water available to build accessory dwelling units in Seaside. A lot of it. 

Seaside City Council made the 5-acre feet of water available with a unanimous vote at its Nov. 19 meeting through an allocation from its limited reserves. The goal of the decision is to promote the construction of new housing to alleviate the longstanding shortage. 

At a minimum, 73 new ADUs can be built with the new water credits. That’s if each new unit is built from the ground up with no additional credits available. But Seaside’s new housing program manager Ben Nurse says that many property owners will already possess some of the credits they need, for example, by retrofitting structures such as a garage with an existing washbasin. 

He adds that at least 12 applications for ADU projects have been on hold for lack of water. “I talked to one contractor who said he had given up from waiting. We can now get the water out to the property owners,” Nurse says. “We expect 100 to be built over the next year.”

The city set the fee for each water fixture credit at $2,500, a price derived from what other local cities charge. Property owners willing to accept deed restrictions to reserve their ADUs for low-income tenants are exempt from the fee. 

“Water is one of the biggest obstacles to more housing in Seaside,” Nurse says. The city is promoting ADUs in order to increase that supply.”

He also pointed to another way the city is hoping to aid Seaside residents facing housing insecurity: a new rent and utility payment assistance program.

Asaf Shalev is a staff writer at the Monterey County Weekly. He covers the environment, agriculture and K-12 education, as well as Seaside, Marina, Sand City, Big Sur and Carmel Valley.

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