Around Town | March 15, 2019 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

News - March 15, 2019

Around Town

MUCH ADU ABOUT HOUSING ... It's been almost two years since Palo Alto passed a new law that loosened restrictions for accessory dwelling units (ADUs), with the goal of encouraging more such units throughout the city. Now, the program appears to be bearing fruit, with south Palo Alto leading the way. According to an update that the city's Department of Planning and Community Environment released earlier this month, the city received 54 permit applications from residents for new ADUs in 2018, up from 28 in 2017. Overall, the city had issued 45 permits in the two years, the report states. While ADUs are a relatively small piece of the city's housing puzzle (historically, the city had only issued about four ADU permits per year), city officials hope that they will gradually become more popular. While only 11 ADUs have been constructed since early 2017 (others are in progress), the number is expected to increase as more properties become eligible for these structures. In December 2018, the city further revised its ADU requirements, removing a "minimum lot size" requirement that limited ADUs to relatively large parcels and waiving the impact fees for garage conversions and "junior ADUs." In the final quarter of 2018, the city had received 11 permit applications for ADUs, of which nine came from south Palo Alto. Ten of the 11 applications (including all nine in south Palo Alto) were for properties zoned for single-family use, while one was for a property in a multifamily residential zone. The new units vary greatly in size and configuration, with the smallest one comprising 328 square feet and the largest one 794 square feet (the average size is about 500 square feet). Five of the 11 are brand new units, while the remaining six are converted garages. City Manager Ed Shikada highlighted the promising trend during last month's City Council retreat. Planning Director Jonathan Lait said during the retreat that while it's too early to identify trends, it's clear the city is producing more such units than it had in the past. "We did anticipate there will be more (permits) in the second year ... as people get familiar with the ordinance," Lait said.

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11 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 15, 2019 at 9:05 am

It would have been very useful if you had included parking impacts in this mini article. Are these new units providing additional offstreet parking? Are these units reducing parking? If a garage is converted to a granny flat (which is what we were told these were going to be), what will that mean for parking at that address.

Additionally, what will this mean to utilities? Will the granny flat have its own garbage cans? Will the address still have to use the same size cans? Will they have to pay extra utilities charges?

So many unknowns and not enough information.

5 people like this
Posted by Make PA Greater Aye
a resident of The Greenhouse
on Mar 15, 2019 at 9:32 am

Congrats to Cantor on landing the pics!

Congrats to the auteurs of:
- "Young, Undocumented and Alone"
- "Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness"
- "Striving for Gender Equality."

9 people like this
Posted by EZ To Get Around The Rules
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Mar 16, 2019 at 1:46 pm

> If a garage is converted to a granny flat (which is what we were told these were going to be)...

We converted our garage into a granny unit & allow the tenant's car to be parked inside providing it is an no carbon monoxide poisoning considerations.

With a three car garage, this is very easy to accomplish & there's no reason to even bother getting a building permit as the ADU will rent quickly & most prospective tenants are willing to keep quiet about out-of-code dwellings for a good rental rate.

5 people like this
Posted by Use?
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 16, 2019 at 4:45 pm

Will there be any way to monitor how many of these ADUs are rented to tenants vs. being used for such things as rec. rooms, offices, and even pool houses?

5 people like this
Posted by Greenacres
a resident of Green Acres
on Mar 16, 2019 at 9:06 pm

If the City starts a program to make preapproved plans available and funding/construction help, I'll put one in my backyard and rent it BMR to a teacher...

11 people like this
Posted by rental or Airbnb?
a resident of College Terrace
on Mar 17, 2019 at 4:32 pm

It would be helpful to know how many of these ADUs are used as rentals (which help alleviate the shortage of affordable housing units) or illegal Airbnb units, which negatively impact neighbors, without having any positive impact on the local shortage of affordable rental units

5 people like this
Posted by @ EZ
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Mar 18, 2019 at 11:22 am

@ EZ is a registered user.

Most Palo Alto houses do not have a three-car garage. Some have a two-car garage while many others have a one-car garage. Not getting a building permit is a health and safety violation. How do we know that the work was done safely and is not a firetrap. Some of these illegal garage conversions had fires in East Palo Alto.

Get a permit and do the work legally and safely.

7 people like this
Posted by PA Slum Lord
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 18, 2019 at 7:15 pm

Makeshift ADUs on the side of or behind the garage are the most economical to build. Just install a toilet/shower & you are ready to go. Advertise it as a studio dwelling with no kitchen...just a small refrigerator/microwave & a hotplate. Add a small ceramic heater for wintertime & that's about it.

EZ $2500 a month with utilities & wifi extra! We own three rental houses in PA & charge $4.5K monthly. Each house has a garage ADU rented seperately from the house. That comes to $21K per month or roughly $250k a year in EZ rent!

The houses are pre-Prop 13 so our property taxes are about $3.5K total + minimal homeowner's insurance as the tenants are required to have renter's insurance that also covers liability.

Rent is paid in CASH so record keeping is kept to a minimum (along with our W-2s).
Haven't worked a regular job for the last 15 years thanks to the housing crunch.

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