Blogging Bayport Alameda

April 22, 2022

No limit ADU

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

The Housing Element item was bumped from Tuesday’s City Council meeting because, as usual, the agenda was overly ambitious and the City Council talks too much. The item is scheduled for action on May 3 so look for that if you’re interested in the Housing Element discussion.

I found absolutely fascinating in the correspondence packet that I wanted to devote special attention to. It’s an email from AAPS saying that they had retained Meyers Nave, a law firm which handles a lot of government-y type clients. Specifically this part:

This is Page 4 of the AAPS letter, SDBL is short hand for State Density Bonus Law. Emphasis on the “law” part.

So the letter from Meyers Nave concludes, unlike the characterization from AAPS, wasn’t that the ADU strategy could be used “as an alternative to State Density Bonus Projects”, the letter says, essentially, yeah the City could adopt this ADU thing, after all the state doesn’t have anything that says your ADU can be less restrictive than ours but…

It sounds like if the City were to adopt AAPS’s UNLIMITED ADU PROGRAM the City would still have to grant density bonuses if the applicants meet the requirements. It’s not 100% clear what AAPS thought the Meyers Nave letter was telling them.

I have to say that the absolute torturous tactics being employed to stop dense and tall housing from being built is quite astounding. That AAPS and its members feel so strongly about stopping a *gasp* seven story building that might be all affordable units is disappointing but not unexpected. I do find it hilarious that AAPS may be pushing forward an even more generous ADU law and still have to contend with people adding density bonus on top of that.


  1. The biggest deterrent to ADU’s is the set of recently enacted tenant protection laws. A homeowner is naturally very cautious about who they’ll rent to in their own literal backyard. The inability to rid oneself of an unsuitable tenant living a few yards from your family is a big worry.

    Statistically it’s not common. Only a tiny portion of renters behave so badly that eviction is the answer, but when it’s your family & your yard, current city law is a major disincentive.

    Comment by dave — April 22, 2022 @ 7:42 am

    • If anything, tenant protection laws bring more stability to the rental market. Renters feel much more comfortable committing to a landlord’s unit knowing they have a safety net to rely on, and would even pay a premium to live in a renter-protected city than elsewhere. Oakland has had a form of rent control since 1980, and their average rent price is higher than Alameda’s. Berkeley’s rent control policy is even more robust, and their average rent price is even higher. It’s very obvious that renters don’t mind paying a bit more if there’s a safety net and if increases are predictable. I’m not sure how this could be a disincentive in the long run, unless you’re irrational (thankfully, very few landlords truly are – the number of rental units in Alameda has actually stayed about the same).

      Comment by JRB — April 22, 2022 @ 12:47 pm

      • I wasn’t talking price, I was talking occupancy. That’s what “rid oneself of an unsuitable tenant” and “behave so badly that eviction is the answer” meant.

        Comment by dave — April 22, 2022 @ 1:24 pm

      • After nearly half a century in the business I have yet to meet a tenant who thinks like that. They are always after the best price and terms possible, as they should be.

        Comment by Ed Hirshberg — April 25, 2022 @ 8:23 pm

    • ADUs are not subject to rent control due to Costa Hawkins. So you may raise the rent on your problem tenant to cover the cost of their impacts on the property and your quiet enjoyment of your domicile. If the tenant does not wish to spend that money, they have the option of moving. Your blaming eviction protections seems unfounded. Remaining restrictions on ADU size, height and location, combined with exceptionally high construction costs seem like actual deterrents.

      Comment by cw — April 22, 2022 @ 1:25 pm

      • And property tax reassessments…and increased insurance costs….and permit fees….and rising interest rates on construction loans.

        Comment by Good Swimmer — April 22, 2022 @ 3:17 pm

      • Costa Hawkins does not obviate the city’s eviction laws which can require an owner to pay tens of thousands to remove a problem from her own back yard. And as long as the “temporary” Covid eviction restrictions remain in place it does not matter how much an owner raises the rent because for the time being non-payment is not valid cause for eviction.

        Comment by dave — April 22, 2022 @ 4:57 pm

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