Blogging Bayport Alameda

September 1, 2016

Granny flat is right, just be prepared

Filed under: Alameda — Lauren Do @ 6:01 am

Even though the Council majority gutted an attempt to loosen up the second unit ordinance late last year it appears that Alamedans who have the space might be able to build that granny flat after all.  One of the big sticking points in Alameda’s ordinance was the parking requirement.  The Planning Board made a recommendation that the units could accommodate the additional parking requirements through tandem parking since requiring side by side would take up more lot space. The City Council majority did not agree. Also the City Council appeared to want to throw in a lot more restrictive requirements including a limitation on how the property owner could use the unit, for example not as a vacation rental unit.

At the state level there is legislation in the works streamline approvals for these units and just a few days ago the legislature approved the first of two measures. From the LA Times:

Under Wieckowski’s bill and a similar measure from Assemblyman Richard Bloom (D-Santa Monica), local governments will no longer be able to require homeowners to add parking for new granny flats near transit stops or have a large uncovered pathway to the street, and will limit fees for connecting the additional unit to water and sewer lines.

State lawmakers who have tried to encourage building such units for more than a decade as a way to address California’s soaring housing costs have expressed frustration with local government inaction.

Governor Brown is expected to sign the law, it will be interesting to see how this is implemented in Alameda.  One of the things not mentioned in the LA Times recap is that the the bill would also reduce the maximum time the city can approve a unit by 30 days.



  1. Shouldn’t the City Council or the Leg. also consider applying these as-of-right rules or exemptions from local planning review to planned communities and active HOA communities like Bayport and many others in Alameda? The current granny unit law requires cities to have a streamlined process for granny unit applications that meet requirements set by the local jurisdiction (or, if none, the state’s default rules). If the application meets those requirements, there is no discretionary review by the planning commission or board and the application is granted as of right. But what about planned or active HOA communities like Bayport and others that make up a good part of Alameda? The CC&Rs may prevent an owner’s second unit application, whether or not it meets the requirements in the local ordinance. And even if the CC&Rs don’t prevent a second unit, the HOA, or the HOA’s architecture committee, likely has discretion to approve or disapprove an owner’s application to create a second unit (including an application to add a second exterior door, etc.). So isn’t it important to make sure that granny unit ordinances or laws that remove planning board discretion aren’t rendered ineffective by CC&Rs or HOA discretion? Land is land, space is space, right?

    Comment by MP — September 1, 2016 @ 6:28 am

    • Interesting point. I believe the state law limits the HOA requirements to what is reasonable, although I haven’t looked into it. This is the case with solar panels, brown lawns/artificial grass and TV dishes.

      Comment by joelsf — September 1, 2016 @ 8:52 am

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