Good News for ADUs

It seems that the tide is turning among multiple local cities & their planning departments regarding Accessory Dwelling Units or ADUs and requirements (and fees at times) are becoming more friendly and conducive to garage conversions, backyard houses, and other ways to develop the capacity of your property. I spoke with Assemblymember Kansen Chu recently about ADUs and he said that there are about 200 bills on the floor about local housing being discussed.

(shared w/ permission) “San Jose: Mayor proposes new ADU program to boost housing. Sam Liccardo wants to offer forgivable loans to build granny flats.”
“San Jose relaxes rules around granny flats. Interest in accessory dwelling units has grown in the last several years.”

Mountain View hopes more residents will jump on the granny flat bandwagon “Mountain View is encouraging construction of backyard granny flats”
Palo Alto also has been updating their regulations, and the discussions there are not unlike discussions happening in many cities, as some residents are concerned about the effects that increased infill will have on their neighborhoods.
Interestingly, when I was speaking with a planner in Half Moon Bay recently about the possibility of a small house small subdivision, it was he who suggested to me putting in an ADU; he said applications are way up from a year ago. There has been such a groundswell of public and governmental attention to this issue that it is not surprising that the attitudes & laws are changing.
Senator Bob Wieckowski’s SB 13 which has passed the Senate could eliminate owner occupancy requirements, eliminate parking requirements if near public transit, and make ADUs easier to build.
Bills AB 68 & 69 by Assembly Member Ting of San Francisco would eliminate lot size restrictions and require approval or denial of an application within 60 days (AB 68) and modify building codes for units under 800 square feet, saving on building costs (AB 69) Eliminating lot size restrictions would make room for more Small (under 500 square feet) & Tiny Homes (generally about 9’ x 20-28 ft) on foundations.

However, the laws have not yet begun to change here regarding Tiny Houses on wheels (THOWs). As wheeled dwellings, they are built to RV standards and are legally a type of trailer. A San Mateo County planner told me that there, the only people who can live in trailers legally on land are agricultural workers, unless the trailer (or Tiny House) is in an RV park. This is not exactly the vision that many who are turning to a more affordable minimalist lifestyle are seeking. So, we have a ways to go on this. More to come on Tiny Homes and progress there!