Remember all the work that was done on the Accessory Dwelling Unit ordinance by the Planning Board? They came up with an okay compromise to actually make the ADU ordinance used more than once every decade. It went to the City Council which essentially brought it back to its formerly useless state. Seriously though, between 2010 and 2016 only two ADUs were built. That’s pathetic.
Well the State had something to say about jurisdictions like Alameda’s that put so many requirements on ADU ordinances that render it practically useless. So now the City staff is back before the Planning Board with modifications to the ADU ordinance to bring it into compliance with State rules.
Essentially the State rules effect the City’s ordinance in lots of ways but two very meaningful ways: minimum lot size and parking. From the staff report:
Under State law, the ADU is accessory to the primary residential unit. Therefore, the local land use regulations may require that the ADU respect the same development standards as the primary unit (e.g. same height limit, same setbacks, etc.), but local land use regulations cannot impose more restrictive standards for the ADU that do not apply to the main residential unit.
Under current AMC 30-4.1.a.9(c), ADUs are only permitted on properties with a lot size of 7,500 square feet. The minimum required lot sizes in most Alameda neighborhoods for the primary residential unit is 5,000 or less. This regulation and similar local laws that limit housing density are now invalid under the recent State Legislation for the purpose of ADUs. The draft amendments strike the minimum lot size requirement from the local regulations. The result of the change is to allow an ADU on any residential lot that is occupied by a single family home.
Essentially Measure A’s each dwelling unit must use 2500 sq ft is null and void for ADU applications.
State law mandates that local governments have flexibility in parking configuration, by allowing tandem parking on an existing driveway and to permit parking in setback areas unless there are safety considerations. Furthermore, State law specifies that when an ADU displaces garage parking, that the replacement spaces be “in any configuration, including, but not limited to, as covered spaces, uncovered spaces, or tandem spaces.” Furthermore, State laws specify that ADUs must be exempt from parking requirements in any of the following situations:
• The ADU is located within one-half mile of public transit.
• The ADU is located within an architecturally and historically significant historic district.
• The ADU is part of the existing primary residence or an existing accessory structure.
• When on-street parking permits are required but not offered to the occupant of the accessory dwelling unit.
• When there is a car share vehicle located within one block of the accessory dwelling unit.
The City’s current regulations require a single, independent parking space for an ADU. In Alameda, most residential properties are within one-half mile of public transit. The draft amendments bring the code into compliance with State Law by specifying that additional parking is not required for an ADU that meets any of the above criteria.
This was a big one, the City requiring that parking spaces not be tandem. The State law does away with all parking requirements if the property meets any one of the bullets above.
The new ADU ordinances also bring up a host of other issues of conflicting regulations that currently exist in Alameda, it will be really interesting to see how the Planning Board study session seeks to resolve these conflicts.