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Are granny units the next big thing in housing?

Original post made on Jun 28, 2019

Palo Alto has loosened restrictions for granny units, but building one can still be expensive and complicated.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, June 28, 2019, 11:59 AM

Comments (16)

Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 28, 2019 at 8:26 pm

We still do not have rules about the extra offstreet parking these granny units will require. What about garbage, utilities, mail deliveries? Are these treated as one address or a secondary address? What happens when the original owner of the main property decides to move, must the granny flat be unoccupied at the time of the sale? What sort of pressures will this put on infrastructure, on our water, sewers, power grid, etc.? And then of course the question of what types of pressures will this put on schools?

I know of one of these done and the owners moved into the granny unit and the main house was where the adult child and family now occupy. This is not in Palo Alto, but it could be the start of a trend that becomes popular here. This would definitely affect our schools.

Posted by Don't be a NIMBY
a resident of Triple El
on Jul 26, 2019 at 8:50 pm

The 133 applications in 30 months averages to fewer than 60 small units added per year - many housing elderly parents and renters without any children. Despite the scare tactics employed in another post, the trickle of students added to the schools and the small impact to water, sewer, etc., can easily be absorbed by our thoughtfully-run city.
If this weren't the case, we would be in dire need of screening the hundreds of home sales each year to ensure that the incoming occupants wouldn't use additional city services or (heaven forbid!) send children to our schools.
The fact is, they do bring their resource-using families and educate their children here - and Palo Alto handles it just fine.
Unclutch the pearls, people.

Posted by eileen
a resident of College Terrace
on Jul 27, 2019 at 12:29 am

eileen is a registered user.

If homeowners decide to build ADU's please build high quality
housing just like the main house. You spend millions on your house,
so do not cheap out on the ADU!

Posted by Another Misnomer/Another Dollar
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 27, 2019 at 9:56 am

'Granny Units' is a misnomer as these are proposed rentals (aka a revenue-generating opportunity/resource).

If a 'granny' isn't actually living in one, these units should be taxed heavily unless they are being used to provide housing for a neer-do-well adult offspring returning home to live with his/her parents. After all, one never ceases being a parent regardless of their children's ages.

As for providing housing to accommodate the increase in PA-based employees, this is not acceptable unless a private garage or carport is also included by the landlord in the rental agreement.

Better yet, just rent out a room in the house to an outsider & prohibit any additional cars unless willing to have them clog up the driveway of the residence itself.

And stop calling them 'granny units'...chances are granny is is an assisted-care facility having been deprived of her original home.

With predatory elder conservatorships running rampant & unaccounted for, that's how it's done these days.

Posted by The Palo Alto Way
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jul 27, 2019 at 1:26 pm

Having an older PA home, we're renting out the basement of our house for $1000/month + utilities. It's like a small studio but with no windows and the family that rents it from us is not allowed to prepare cooked meals due to the lack of proper ventilation & exhaust measures. We installed a small bathroom with a shower stall & that's about it. Entrance to the basement is separate & from the outdoors so our privacy is ensured.

Due to the current concerns over deportation, we have had no problem renting it & currently have a wait list in the event this family decides to vacate the premises & move elsewhere.

The other advantages include the adult family members working for us as a gardener/handyman, cook/housekeeper & periodic babysitter. For these services we reduce the monthly rent and so we not only have paying tenants but regular domestic help as well.

The family parks their mini-van on various streets in the neighborhood & so it is never there in one particular place at any given time. We have tried to encourage them to have it registered & insured but there are currently encumbrances based on their citizenship factors and being open-minded Palo Altans, we have opted to look the other way.

Posted by Seeking Cost-Effective Domestic Help As Well
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jul 27, 2019 at 3:24 pm

Curious. If you hire non-citizens who work & live on your property (for both practical & humanitarian reasons) then you don't have to cover healthcare, Social Security, Workman's Comp, State Disability & Federal/State income tax withdrawals because they are not legally here or allowed to file for those programs anyway?

Palo Alto being a liberal community that supports the concept of sanctuary cities (in general), we might consider a similar approach in terms of procuring domestic services in exchange for housing + a small living stipend.

This is how it was done in the old days before the laws got complicated & major issues pertaining to illegal immigration arose.

Posted by Resident
a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 27, 2019 at 4:05 pm

The 13th Amendment, passed in the wake of the American Civil War, made indentured servitude illegal in the United States.

Just sayin'

Oh yeah, I forgot, it is the Palo Alto way.

Posted by Name hidden
a resident of Palo Alto Hills

on Jul 27, 2019 at 6:43 pm

Due to repeated violations of our Terms of Use, comments from this poster are automatically removed. Why?

Posted by Resident
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jul 27, 2019 at 8:39 pm

[Post removed.]

Posted by PA Way Revisited
a resident of Community Center
on Jul 28, 2019 at 12:16 pm

> The 13th Amendment, passed in the wake of the American Civil War, made indentured servitude illegal in the United States.

The 13th Amendment states...“Neither slavery nor INVOLUNTARY servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.”

^^^ So if an undocumented immigrant family wishes to exchange domestic services for lodging + a small stipend or discount on lodging, that is permissible by law depending upon the jurisdiction's position on sanctuary protections.

Thus the PA Way is OK depending on mutual agreement. It's a win-win for those with a 'granny unit' & needing some extra help around the house.

Just don't tell anyone or broadcast the arrangements.

Posted by Resident
a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 29, 2019 at 10:00 pm

@ PA Way revisited

You can justify your stance on undocumented workers anyway you like.
It still does not make it right.

Posted by PA Way Revisited
a resident of Community Center
on Jul 30, 2019 at 11:36 am

It's not a matter of what is right or what is wrong...strictly an individual call given the laws, loopholes & actual practices.

Providing reasonable housing + employment opportunities for undocumented immigrants is providing a humanitarian service in itself.

As far as approving or providing social services & entitlement benefits for undocumented immigrants, that is strictly out of our hands.

Why collect/pay deductions for & to a government bureaucracy that does not acknowledge certain individuals as eligible for them?

Being 'off the grid' has its advantages...wishing I had some of those options myself!

Posted by PA Grandma
a resident of Community Center
on Aug 22, 2019 at 6:20 pm

If these units are rented out as temporary rental units etc. on a regular basis, the homeowner is effectively running a hotel on the property.

Have the neighbors been notified?

Do they provide parking or does the neighborhood take up the slack? Do they remit a hotel tax to the city?

A hotel is a commercial enterprise . . . is that allowed in a residential neighborhood?

Posted by No Room At This PA Inn
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 22, 2019 at 6:33 pm

> If these units are rented out as temporary rental units etc. on a regular basis, the homeowner is effectively running a hotel on the property.

^^^I imagine it depends on the short-term/long-term timeframe as PA has hotel taxes that are applied for short-term stays (i.e. motels, hotels etc.).

We have a granny unit that we rent for short periods of time & refer to as a suburban Palo Alto 'bed & breakfast inn" *LOL*

A couple of individually packaged Svensons breakfast rolls + a small bottle of Tropicana orange juice & a coupon to Peets. Done deal.

No parking allowed...guests use Uber/Lyft.

An easy way to pick up $250.00 per night. We're booked solid Monday through Thursdays so 16 times $250.00...well you do the math + we rent out TWO rooms with private baths... all unreported income as well & we only accept CASH.

That's around $90K+ per year as we are closed for the Xmas/New Years holiday season.

Posted by Antifa
a resident of another community
on Aug 22, 2019 at 6:46 pm

Suburbia is the root of all evil in society. Racism, misogyny, homophobia, homelessness, and wealth inequality. If suburbia is to be destroyed we must seize any and every opportunity, large or small, to dismantle it piece by piece. In this way, before they even realize what is happening, it will be gone.

Posted by No Room At This PA Inn
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 22, 2019 at 8:12 pm

Just finished having dinner with a very wealthy Chinese entrepreneur who owns several successful manufacturing facilities in China (aka high-tech sweatshops).

He & his wife own three vacant houses in Palo Alto (for investment purposes) & he liked the idea of what I'm currently pulling off. He figured he might as well make some additional money off his houses before liquidating them so he decided over dinner to create 'bed & breakfast' houses of his own for visiting Chinese workers/students.

He's going to hire a 'housemother' for each dwelling and charge $200 per night (including three 'cost-effective' meals). It's actually going to be more along the lines of a traditional boarding house.

Clever wonder he is so rich.

Let's see now. What's 4 bedrooms times 30 days times $200 per day times 3 houses? That's going to be his 'tax-free' booty...$72K per month!

Good lord (doing the math), that's well over $850K per year.

Not bad for a recently arrived immigrant.

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