Affordable housing has become an oxymoron on the Peninsula! For Santa Clara County the median price home is $1,172,000 and for San Mateo County it is $1,425,000. Legislative bodies at all levels and the private sector are struggling with potential solutions. At the end of 2017 Governor Jerry Brown signed legislation providing different approaches to relieve the high cost of housing, including fees, a proposed bond issue for the 2018 ballot, incentives, and potential penalties for cities that say “no to housing”.
In 2016 the Governor approved three separate bills addressing Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) that became effective January 1, 2017. The aim of the legislation was to make it easier for homeowners to develop smaller housing units that could provide lower cost housing. The legislation permits an ADU within an existing structure on any residential lot. For ADUs requiring an addition or new structure, the local jurisdiction may determine placement depending on factors such as utilities, traffic flow and public safety. On-site parking requirements and expensive utility hook-up fees have been eased or eliminated. Property owners must still comply with building codes when adding an ADU.
In 2017 many local jurisdictions needed to amend their building/zoning regulations to conform with less restrictive state requirements. Applications from homeowners around the bay have skyrocketed and planning commissions and city building officials have been busy fielding questions from homeowners interested in the possibility of adding an ADU to their property. As awareness about ADUs has increased, we are being asked questions about the feasibility of adding one by prospective homebuyers, and some of our clients have approached us wanting to know how an ADU might impact the value of their property. We expect there to be continued interest in ADUs in 2018.
If you are considering adding an ADU it is important to get solid professional advice by consulting with an architect, licensed building contractor and the city/county planning and building departments.