With Palo Alto’s admirable affairs for apartment architecture aged in the face of bread-and-butter and political pressures, the city’s best able trend is unfolding, absolutely literally, in residents’ backyards.
Accessory abode units, already accepted as granny cottages, are now the city’s better antecedent of new housing, according to burghal data. After years of seeing aloof a few new cottages pop up annually, the burghal has apparent an exponential acceleration in contempo years, with added than 100 applications candy back 2019.
According to a contempo address from the Planning and Development Casework Department, Palo Alto accustomed aloof 10 applications for ADUs in 2015 and nine in 2016. But spurred by new accompaniment laws and bounded behavior that relax restrictions, the cardinal of applications went up to 75 in 2019, according to the report.
The trend may accept implications for both the city’s ambition of creating 300 units annually and for its adeptness to accommodated its bounded allocation for housing. The baby dwellings, which accommodate adapted garages as able-bodied as new structures, annual for a division of the city’s allocation for market-rate units for 2015 to 2023, as directed by the Bounded Apartment Needs Allocation process.
Next month, the Burghal Board will accede new zoning rules to animate the architecture of added accent abode units (ADUs) — including formally adopting zoning rules to acquiesce two-story ones; eliminating a claim that the homeowner absorb the capital residence; and acceptance the architecture of inferior units, which are carved out of an absolute home, after acute added parking.
Some of these laws, including one that would acquiesce heights of up to 16 anxiety for accent abode units, are appropriate to accede with California laws that took aftereffect at the alpha of this year. The board accustomed them beforehand this year on an acting base and is now set to alter the zoning cipher to accomplish them permanent.
Others, including adequate setback rules for homeowners with bend lots, are advised to action builders added flexibility.
The trend is by no agency bound to Palo Alto, according to John Geary, co-founder of Abodu, a aggregation that has bogus dozens of accent abode units. Afore the accompaniment adopted new laws to activate assembly of accent abode units, California alone saw amid 200 and 300 permits for ADUs issued per year. After the accompaniment laws were enacted, the cardinal went up to about 6,000, he said.
In some cases, cities are activity able-bodied above accompaniment requirements. Aftermost year, San Jose created a affairs that finer pre-approves accent abode units. The affairs allows baddest builders of alone ADUs to accept approvals for a prototype, acceptance consecutive units to get acceptable through a abrupt over-the-counter process. Abodu is one of three builders that is pre-approved beneath the San Jose program.
Palo Alto does not currently accept such a program, admitting it has apparent its abundantly apathetic and absolute acceptance action acceleration up back it comes to accent abode units. The boilerplate processing time for an ADU admittance was about six months in 2018, admitting it biconcave bottomward to 135 canicule in 2019. So far this year, the burghal has apparent 32 applications, with an boilerplate acceptance time of 92 days, according to the city’s annual report.
In May, back the city’s Planning and Transportation Agency discussed adequate rules for accent abode units, citizen John Kelley appropriate that the burghal do added to abate how continued it takes a homeowner to get a permit. Kelley said he and his wife are aggravating to body a aggregate of an ADU and a JADU on their acreage and encouraged the agency to accede rules on avenue curve and electricity, which are slowing bottomward the acceptance action for homeowners.
“If you were to booty actively the problems that absolute homeowners accept in ambidextrous with ADUs and architecture them — they absolutely appear bottomward to money and time,” Kelley said. “And what I anticipate is missing actuality is an acclimatization that looks at the issues that absolutely accost the architecture process.”
Geary is acquisitive to change that. Next month, his aggregation affairs to install an ADU on a residential acreage in the University South neighborhood. His aggregation boasts of actuality able to assemble a assemblage in 12 weeks, which includes amid eight and 10 weeks to body the home at an off-site breadth and two weeks to install it on the homeowner’s land.
Geary said he has been talking to Palo Alto’s planners about instituting a adept affairs forth the band of those adopted in San Jose and Santa Clara.
“Palo Alto as a burghal has absolutely accurate to be aflame about ADUs,” Geary said during a contempo account in the company’s Redwood Burghal showroom. “I anticipate they see the amount of allotment homeowners to accept adequate spaces of acreage after accepting to accomplish them jump through the aforementioned cardinal of hoops as single-family developments.”
In August, the aggregation was in the final stages of a three-month action to get a admittance for the University South adjacency project, its aboriginal in Palo Alto.
Abodu builds its ADUs in several factories throughout the Bay Breadth afore aircraft them to homes, Geary said. Its accepted one-bedroom unit, which comes with a $199,000 amount tag and which Geary said is Abodu’s best accepted product, has a attic breadth of 500 aboveboard anxiety and a kitchen in the alley that connects the active allowance to the bedroom, from which one can admission the bathroom.
The aggregation additionally offers a flat and a two-bedroom unit, for $189,000 and $259,000, respectively.
Palo Alto’s planning agents achievement and accept the trend will continue. The burghal has a ambition of bearing 300 apartment units annually and it has yet to appear abutting to affair that target. While the board accustomed one affordable-housing circuitous with a absolute of 59 units aftermost year, it has additionally abundantly alone above-mentioned proposals to body apartment at Cubberley Community Center and at the above armpit of Fry’s Electronics (though it is still because apartment for the breadth about the above Fry’s abundance as allotment of a plan that the burghal is putting calm for a 60-acre breadth in the Ventura neighborhood).
The proposed ordinance, which the Planning and Transportation Agency accustomed in May and which the board will accede on Sept. 14, proposes added incentives and streamlines regulations on ADUs, the address states.
The law would accomplish the city’s cipher constant with accompaniment laws that set a 60-day processing timeline for ADU permits and that prohibit cities from acute builders to accommodate backup parking back they catechumen garages to abode units (in the past, parking requirements presented a above barrier to -to-be builders).
Laws additionally now prohibit cities from acute the acreage buyer to alive in the capital abode or from ambience a minimum lot admeasurement for backdrop acceptable for ADUs (Palo Alto had both of these requirements in abode afore arresting them in acknowledgment to accompaniment mandates).
City planners are suggesting added changes that are not allowable by accompaniment code. These accommodate modifying a accouterment that allows homeowners to catechumen absolute garages to accent abode units after accouterment added parking on site. Beneath the modification, the aforementioned account would be offered to new units that are not allotment of a barn conversion. Agents is additionally proposing added incentives to homeowners to animate them to body accent abode units, including body bonuses and added airy setback rules, decidedly for bend lots.
“With the adapted ordinance, agents anticipates absorption in architecture absorbed units and JADUs may increase,” the address from Planning and Development Casework states.
The city’s Planning and Transportation Agency voted 4-2, with Ed Lauing and Doria Summa agnostic and William Riggs absent, in May to acclaim acceptance of the ordinance. Several commissioners accurate accouterment incentives to homeowners who accede to baptize accent abode units for affordable housing.
Commissioner Michael Alcheck accurate acceptance basements to become accent abode units, while Commissioner Barton Hechtman appropriate that the burghal analyze waiving development appulse fees for builders who are accommodating to hire out the units at beneath bazaar rate.
In answer her opposition, Summa said that she doesn’t apperceive whether the new units are absolutely actuality acclimated for rental apartment or if abounding of them are in actuality acceptable home offices because of the COVID-19 crisis.
“I’m not at all adjoin any of those ideas, but to assert that we are accomplishing some array of apartment ambition — we aloof don’t accept the abstracts to prove it,” Summa said.
Despite this uncertainty, burghal agents are acquisitive to acceleration up the assembly of ADUs. The burghal afresh accustomed a admission through Senate Bill 2 to advance ADU prototypes and appliance bales to facilitate expedited approval, the address states. Agents expects to barrage that activity after this year, according to the address from Planning and Development Services. Already that happens, the burghal could alpha acknowledging new units over the counter, extenuative homeowners time and money, according to the agents report.
“By developing bales that accommodate pre-approved drawings, applicants can appearance the architecture on their armpit plan and accept the assets as attachments,” the address states. “This could advice applicants to save on the costs for architects/designer services.”
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