San Mateo Solicits Public Input for Potential Modifications to Accessory Dwelling Unit Legislation

California Association of Realtors, Central Valley, San Francisco Bay Area, San Francisco County, Southern California, Central Valley, Sacramento County

San Mateo SAMCAR AB 2299 AB 2406 Residential Accessory Dwelling Unit Junior Accessory Dwelling Unit State Legislation Housing Affordability

By Jacob Bourne

California Assembly Bills 2299 and 2406 were approved by Governor Jerry Brown and filed with the Secretary of State in September, prompting celebration from the State’s affordable housing advocates who have promoted the creation of new housing as a means to combat the crisis. The legislation allows cities to craft ordinances concerning the creation of accessory dwelling and junior accessory dwelling units within single family homes or multifamily residential buildings and provides a framework of essential requirements. The laws go into effect on January 1, 2017.

[contextly_sidebar id=”Sb3Hzdd4ZdVAfTInZsqDxzVo6boMtIHQ”]“Some municipalities have already passed accessory dwelling unit legislation ahead of the State,”  said Lorraine Weiss, contract planner, City of San Mateo. “Places in Marin County like Novato, Larkspur and Tiburon have ordinances already. Some South Bay communities may have gotten a head start on crafting ordinances as well. Cities that haven’t, like San Mateo, will default to the State requirements come January, until the ordinances are passed.”

Weiss is currently leading an outreach initiative in San Mateo to gather feedback from the public and organizations active in housing issues such as San Mateo County Association of Realtors. Three community meetings, with about 22 people in attendance at each, were held in October during which the intent of the law was explained and questions answered.

“We’re going through the public process right now to see what citizens think,” Weiss explained. “Some people are concerned that relaxed codes will put more cars and traffic on the streets, resulting in increased traffic in already congested areas. Overall, it’s generally accepted as people realize there’s a housing shortage and City employees, fire personnel and service workers need housing as market rates have gotten too expensive.”

The goal of efforts by Weiss and other San Mateo planners is to ensure that the laws provide sufficient incentives for single family homeowners to create accessory dwelling units by repurposing areas of their homes. Proposals are currently being crafted based in part on community feedback to give people as much flexibility as possible so that they want to create the units. One of the main incentives for homeowners would be a signifiant reduction in fees and permits to build the units while offsetting their own housing costs with rent income.

The State requirements for accessory dwelling units were created to reduce barriers to creating this type of new housing while stimulating its production. Homeowners will now be able to recreate second story units without public notice and provide tandem parking options. The maximum size for detached accessory structures is 1,200 square feet. The junior accessory dwelling units could provide much needed housing for caregivers and local workers who cannot afford standard apartments, while generating extra income for homeowners. Only one unit of this type can be created per single family home and cannot be sold as a separate property.  A 500 square foot maximum is set for these units and additional parking would not be provided under State requirements.

Weiss explained that the proposal being crafted will be very close to the State legislation with some potential modifications to square footage and parking options depending on proximity to public transit. Once drafted, the proposed ordinance will go before both the Planning Commission and City Council for approval. A Planning Commission hearing is set for December 13 but a subsequent City Council meeting won’t likely be until after January 1. The State legislation will set the default requirements for San Mateo and other municipals that do not have ordinances in place before the first of the year.

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