Blogging Bayport Alameda

September 12, 2019

One ADU at a time

Filed under: Alameda — Lauren Do @ 6:02 am

San Jose has done it and should be a model for other cities looking to provide some real relief to the housing crisis.  They’ve pre-approved one accessory dwelling unit model from builder Abodu.

From ABC 7:

City officials believe these granny lists could go a long way in helping to ease the Bay Area’s housing crunch and they hope the pre-approved plans will speed things up for potential builders.

“You’re shaving off all that decision-making time that would go into a custom-built ADU, you know, how big is it going to be, where do the rooms go, what kind of kitchen is it, all of those decisions are already made,” said Cheryl Wessling with the city’s planning, building, and code enforcement department.

On Tuesday afternoon, the city council will consider a loan forgiveness program worth up to $20,000 for residents who are willing to rent out their backyard homes as affordable housing for five years.

 

“The fees cost about $20,000. That’s a huge impediment to some people who want to build affordable housing in their backyard, so the forgivable loan will enable us to help folks get into those ADUs,” said San Jose city councilmember Pam Foley.

From ordering to construction, and then on-site installation, Abodu officials say the homes can be finished and ready for move-in within three months.

This Dwell post has photos of the exterior and interior, highlights:

San Jose is pushing to develop 10,000 new affordable housing units by 2022, so Abodu is a boon for city Mayor Sam Liccardo. “We won’t solve our housing crisis $650,000 at a time—we have to bend the cost curve in order to build more housing,” he says. “We’re grateful for Abodu’s partnership in offering residents pre-approved backyard homes—which will help add critically needed affordable housing to our city’s housing stock. I encourage others to follow their lead.” With the path now paved, others surely will.

Company cofounders Geary and McInerney are in the process of striking similar agreements with other Bay Area cities, although they have yet to reveal details. With 5,000 new accessory dwelling units built in California in the past year, and slated inroads with new counties, they’re working hard to address the region’s housing crisis.

Here’s hoping that Alameda starts making it easier, simpler, and faster to get ADUs on line.

24 Comments »

  1. New rent control and tenant “protection” laws strongly discourage renting an ADU to anyone other than a family member or a very close friend. The expense and difficulty of getting rid of a problem tenant literally in one’s back yard is just too steep. Nickel and dime “incentives” like the one described are meaningless when your safety, comfort and peace of mind are compromised by a potentially troublesome and hostile individual living a few steps away.

    We need housing supply and ADU’s *could* be part of it, but with current law, ADU’s will not move the needle.

    Comment by dave — September 12, 2019 @ 6:11 am

    • Additionally, these new ADUs would be at market rent, which would do nothing to provide “affordable housing” in the City. This is unfortunate, because unlike new rental construction that has the cost of purchasing the land under the unit(s) factored in, those wishing to consider an ADU do not incur the land cost. If the City Council was actually interested in investing in affordable housing, they would 1) pre-approve studio, one bedroom, and two bedroom “standard” designs; 2) waive all design fees and inspection fees associated with the construction if these designs are used; 3) set affordable rent amounts that are below current market rate rents by contract with the property owner and deed restriction the requirement, and to your point Dave, 4) relax the requirements for terminating tenancies.

      I realize the last provision will spark a firestorm among some advocates, but by deed restricting the initial rent and subsequent rent increases, the economic incentive to raising rents is eliminated and rents would not be tied to the ever increasing market rate rent providing more stability for the community. Additionally, property owners could calculate with some degree of certainty how long it would take to recoup their initial capital cost. Once the ADU was paid off, the rent would provide income to the property owner in later years. A nice supplement to Social Security assuming it will be around.

      Comment by Jeff Cambra — September 12, 2019 @ 7:57 am

      • Oh forgot #5, income qualificationsto be sure these units are affordable to the folks that need the lower housing cost.

        Comment by Jeff Cambra — September 12, 2019 @ 8:00 am

        • Market rate housing IS affordable housing, by definition. What you describe is subsidized housing, a horse of a very different color.

          Your point #3 seems to be (and please correct me if I’m wrong) that a homeowner should build and pay for a unit and voluntarily rent it below market. Or put another way, an individual homeowner will subsidize housing directly.

          That is……fanciful.

          Comment by dave — September 12, 2019 @ 8:36 am

        • Dave: Technically, you are correct to a great degree. The property owner would not be subject to the design and permitting fees in exchange for the lower rent AND would not be subject to the regulations you pointed out. That would create some direct savings. Note that this suggestion is not in lieu of the current ADU procedures and requirements. Personally, I would want the City to back below market financing for these types of units adding to the financial incentive to create these types of units. The trick is to provide some long term financial incentive to build these units.

          Comment by Jeff Cambra — September 12, 2019 @ 8:52 am

  2. Totally unrelated to the post. But for those of you who do not know the stories behind the person who is celebrating her 65th birthday and named after the first school in the United States in honor.

    http://larryferlazzo.edublogs.org/2018/11/14/the-best-resources-for-learning-about-ruby-bridges/

    Comment by Mike McMahon — September 12, 2019 @ 7:18 am

  3. It’s nice that the city is doing workouts with the $20,000, but the $199,000 price of the pre-fabs is a bigger impediment, according to the article. Where I used to live, the “ADU” was created sometime in the 1940’s or 50’s* by installing an upstairs kitchen, about 200-300 sq ft of drywall to separate upstairs and downstairs, and a second front door. Garage conversion has long been another way of creating, essentially, an “ADU”.

    In some circumstances, one could probably use those methods to create an ADU using the city’s current ADU ordinance. It depends, among other things, on the size of the proposed ADU (and maybe on the sq ft ratio of of the ADU versus the “main” living space). While the current ADU ordinance fastracks applications, without subjecting them to Planning Board review (unless some part of the plan separately triggers Board review), it does not override or exempt applicants from HOA review if the property is subject to HOA governance. City Planning could probably provide an accurate statistic, but I would estimate that about 1/6 to 1/5 of land zoned residential in Alameda is governed by active HOAs, so whether and when our local ADU laws should exempt otherwise-qualifying ADU applications from a second layer of review at the HOA level is something to keep in mind when we are considering our options for providing real relief to the housing crisis.

    * “As the country’s labor force became focused on war manufacturing and many soldiers were sent overseas to fight, quick and inexpensive building materials were needed to offset the labor shortage and war costs. Because the labor shortage was too intense for plastering to remain a viable building option, people began to use drywall instead. Houses and factories could be constructed in a fraction of the time and with a fraction of the labor previously required. Cheap and efficient products were seen as patriotic because they allowed citizens to spend more time and money supporting the war effort.

    By the time the war ended in 1945, drywall had become the dominant building material in the United States.”

    https://home.howstuffworks.com/home-improvement/home-diy/projects/drywall1.htm

    Comment by MP — September 12, 2019 @ 7:31 am

    • It looks like Gov. Newsom did, in fact, sign legislation re ADUs and HOAs on Aug 30.

      https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billTextClient.xhtml?bill_id=201920200AB670

      There is of course room for interpretation. Here is the main provision:

      “Any covenant, restriction, or condition contained in any deed, contract, security instrument, or other instrument affecting the transfer or sale of any interest in a planned development, and any provision of a governing document, that either effectively prohibits or unreasonably restricts the construction or use of an accessory dwelling unit or junior accessory dwelling unit on a lot zoned for single-family residential use that meets the requirements of Section 65852.2 or 65852.22 of the Government Code, is void and unenforceable.”

      Assembly Bill No. 670
      CHAPTER 178

      An act to add Section 4751 to the Civil Code, relating to common interest developments.

      [ Approved by Governor August 30, 2019. Filed with Secretary of State August 30, 2019. ]

      LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL’S DIGEST

      AB 670, Friedman. Common interest developments: accessory dwelling units.
      The Planning and Zoning Law authorizes a local agency to provide for the creation of accessory dwelling units in single-family and multifamily residential zones by ordinance, and sets forth standards the ordinance is required to impose with respect to certain matters, including, among others, maximum unit size, parking, and height standards. Existing law authorizes a local agency to provide by ordinance for the creation of junior accessory dwelling units, as defined, in single-family residential zones and requires the ordinance to include, among other things, standards for the creation of a junior accessory dwelling unit, required deed restrictions, and occupancy requirements.

      Existing law, the Davis-Stirling Common Interest Development Act, governs the management and operation of common interest developments. Existing law prohibits the governing document of a common interest development from prohibiting the rental or leasing of any separate interest in the common interest development, unless that governing document was effective prior to the date the owner acquired title to their separate interest.

      This bill would make void and unenforceable any covenant, restriction, or condition contained in any deed, contract, security instrument, or other instrument affecting the transfer or sale of any interest in a planned development, and any provision of a governing document, that effectively prohibits or unreasonably restricts the construction or use of an accessory dwelling unit or junior accessory dwelling unit on a lot zoned for single-family residential use that meets the above-described minimum standards established for those units. However, the bill would permit reasonable restrictions that do not unreasonably increase the cost to construct, effectively prohibit the construction of, or extinguish the ability to otherwise construct, an accessory dwelling unit or junior accessory dwelling unit consistent with those aforementioned minimum standards provisions.
      DIGEST KEY
      Vote: majority Appropriation: no Fiscal Committee: no Local Program: no
      BILL TEXT
      THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS:

      SECTION 1. It is the intent of the Legislature in enacting this act to encourage the construction of affordable accessory dwelling units and junior accessory dwelling units that are owner-occupied and that are used for rentals of terms longer than 30 days.
      SEC. 2. Section 4751 is added to the Civil Code, to read:
      4751. (a) Any covenant, restriction, or condition contained in any deed, contract, security instrument, or other instrument affecting the transfer or sale of any interest in a planned development, and any provision of a governing document, that either effectively prohibits or unreasonably restricts the construction or use of an accessory dwelling unit or junior accessory dwelling unit on a lot zoned for single-family residential use that meets the requirements of Section 65852.2 or 65852.22 of the Government Code, is void and unenforceable.
      (b) This section does not apply to provisions that impose reasonable restrictions on accessory dwelling units or junior accessory dwelling units. For purposes of this subdivision, “reasonable restrictions” means restrictions that do not unreasonably increase the cost to construct, effectively prohibit the construction of, or extinguish the ability to otherwise construct, an accessory dwelling unit or junior accessory dwelling unit consistent with the provisions of Section 65852.2 or 65852.22 of the Government Code.

      Comment by MP — September 12, 2019 @ 4:04 pm

      • Re: AB 670

        “According to the author, many HOAs have restrictions on what can or cannot be done with their
        dwelling units, including the ability to have a second unit or ADU. This bill will allow, where
        appropriate, those homeowners who wish to seek the development of a second unit. California is
        in an extreme housing crisis and we need to explore all options to expand the supply of housing,
        especially smaller affordable second units”

        Comment by MP — September 12, 2019 @ 4:10 pm

        • Laura Friedman
          @laurafriedman43
          My AB 670 was signed by @GavinNewsom! Now millions of homeowners who have been previously prohibited by HOAs will soon have the ability to help solve our housing crisis by building additional units on their property. 4:56 PM · Aug 31, 2019·Twitter for iPhone

          Replying to
          @laurafriedman43 @myBurbankNEWS and @GavinNewsom
          I totally dislike California and it’s policies especially the governor. Liberalism is a sickness!

          Comment by MP — September 12, 2019 @ 4:25 pm

  4. I have really mixed feelings about ADUs. My little city (in a different state than California) promotes them. However, almost all have been built in my R-2 neighborhood, and none in the R-1 or in the Jr. McMansion PUDs. There are 4 new ADUs within 2 blocks of my house. Planning Staff says ADUs are for grannies or millenials, none of whom really want cars. We do have one granny in one of the ADUs. She has a car. One ADU has 3 (count ‘m) college students, each with their own car, each of whom appear to drive the 1 mile to their school, one to a car. Not sure about the other two ADU’s, the occupants appear to be otherwise undifferentiated adults. I will be curious to learn what Alameda’s experience will be with ADUs. Except for maybe the sheer number of extant ADUs, sometimes it looks like Alameda is maybe 10 years ahead of my little city in terms of dealing with housing and its relative unaffordability.

    Comment by Tom Schweich — September 12, 2019 @ 7:55 am

  5. There are many homes in Alameda that don’t even have the backyard space for an ADU. I like the idea of more ADUs but it does seem like there are many properties where it just isn’t even an option. Townhouses, HOAs, tiny lots, etc.

    Comment by michonnekatana — September 12, 2019 @ 9:36 am

    • Agreed to a certain extent. The idea of ADUs is only one piece of the housing puzzle and not a stand alone solution. The benefit of the “restricted” ADU concept is that it is targeted to those most vulnerable community members.

      Comment by Jeff Cambra — September 12, 2019 @ 10:43 am

  6. There are new statewide ADU ordinance changes in the pipeline. If they are approved, it could increase the number of ADU’s constructed in the region.

    Comment by Karen Bey — September 12, 2019 @ 10:08 am

  7. There are ADU’s and JADU’s. ADU’s are attached or unattached units on an existing property. JADU’s are the conversion of one or more bedrooms in an existing house into a separate unit(basically by creating exit directly from the bedroom). There are many more opportunities in Alameda for JADU’s than ADU’s.

    Comment by notadave — September 12, 2019 @ 10:52 am

    • Do JADUs allow for the addition of a kitchen in addition to the separate exit?

      Comment by Jeff Cambra — September 12, 2019 @ 10:54 am

    • Is there a separate ordinance for JADUs? In addition to getting the city permit, would a JADU applicant in an HOA have to seek approval from the HOA?

      Comment by MP — September 12, 2019 @ 11:09 am

  8. Silly goose. Clearly few of you arguing for ADUs own property. The first thing to happen post ADU, is the county reassessing your property. Then we get the privilege of renting it out below market rate to people who can’t be evicted or have to be paid if they move?

    Our city council is going in another direction. Not going to work in the current progressive regulatory anti-landlord environment. What’s the incentive? Give a tax break, a low interest loan, create a tax free environment, waive all fees, or this is just fantasy land.

    Oh yeah-how ironic- statewide rent control passed today…good luck with ADUs.

    Comment by Nowyouknow — September 12, 2019 @ 6:37 pm

    • So, I own my property and would seriously consider putting in an ADU even with the reassessment (although, you bring up an excellent point. Time to chat with Phong La and the County Board of Supervisors) and below market rents with the correct incentives. Yes. the relocation assistance and just cause provisions present issues in these more intimate living situations and tthat would need to be amended.

      With a short payoff period, I could see myself down sizing into the paid off ADU and renting out my big house; Significantly reduced my monthly overhead for housing costs and an income stream that would allow me to stay in Alameda, age in place, and maintain my community connections like the Rotary Club of Alameda. It may not be for everyone, but it would work for some and help others in some small way.

      I know it seems like these ADUs would not put a dent in the larger housing crisis and would appear to have no impact at all, but for the person that is commuting 100 miles into Alameda to work, the family living in an RV with a child in an Alameda school, or a fifth generation Alameda senior living only on Social Security and is spending 60% of their $1500 check on housing in Alameda, it would have a life changing impact on them.

      Comment by Jeff Cambra — September 13, 2019 @ 8:21 am


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