This coming Tuesday June 18th at 7pm, Redwood City’s Planning Commission will be holding a public hearing about a proposal to make it more difficult to add Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs). The meeting will be held at Redwood City City Hall, 1017 Middlefield Road in Redwood City. You can view the agenda and materials here.
Especially in the case of smaller lot sizes, one smart way to build ADUs is to add them on top of an existing one-story garage on the property. A small group of residents in Redwood City have organized in an effort to make this second-story option much less available and attractive for their fellow homeowners to build. They propose height limits and incentivizing single-story ADUs over second-story units. We believe this will result in the creation of fewer new ADU homes and are strongly against this proposed change.
We encourage renters, homeowners, and other housing supporters to join us at the meeting to share feedback and stories in support of this valuable piece of the housing mix.
For more on ADUs and the proposed change, read on…
Since 2017, California state and local governments have been updating regulations to make it easier than ever for homeowners to build ADUs. We’re excited about this — ADUs provide more opportunities for housing that can provide benefits such as:
Multi-generational family housing
Space for a caretaker to live with a family
Room for aging homeowners to live in a smaller, smartly-designed unit and rent out their main house — providing income and independence without having to leave their community
There are many reasons people are so excited about ADUs:
They’re thoughtfully developed by homeowners who manage them personally. In nearly all cases, ADU owners are required to live in either the primary residence or the ADU itself. As the person living closest to the unit, ADU owners are highly motivated to make the ADU situation a great one for both themselves and their neighbors.
Second-story ADUs blend in well, often matching the height of the main residence and other surrounding homes. They also allow residents to leave vegetation and trees where they are, instead of tearing it out to build more one-story housing.
Silicon Valley’s housing crisis means that many local workers commute in from up to two hours away. ADUs are a fantastic solution that allows workers to live locally in the communities where they work, thereby reducing traffic, emissions, and stress for everyone.
Smaller homes overall have less of a carbon footprint, with only 60% of the carbon emissions of a “normal sized” counterpart. Small living is lightweight living!
Research shows that ADU residents tend to drive less, especially when near transit, downtowns, and services, or are inhabited by “ageing in place” seniors. This benefits traffic, parking, and overall carbon emissions by reducing the amount of driving residents need to do.
Adding more rental stock to the mix also reduces displacement of those who live in our communities today.
Please help us advocate for second story ADUs on Tuesday:
When: Tuesday, June 18, 7pm
Where: 1017 Middlefield Road, Redwood City, CA 94063
What: Encourage the Planning Commission to not pass height limitations on ADUs, or incentives that favor single-story ADUs only.
And whether or not you can make it, please contact the Redwood City Planning Commission to voice your support:
As we all know, 2020 is a huge election year for Democratic candidates. There are many hopeful candidates at this stage in the game, and housing is one of the crucial issues they face.
This coming Sunday, the Peninsula Democratic Coalition is hosting an event focused exclusively on housing policy, aiming to discuss how we can advocate for housing as a unified group of voters. We’ll also learn more about where each of the Presidential candidates stand on housing policy. Please join us:
When: Sunday, June 16th, 1-3pm
Where: Mitchell Park Community Center at 3700 Middlefield Rd, Palo Alto, CA 94303
What: Local leaders Don Weden (the retired Principal Planner from Santa Clara County), Leora Tanjuatco Ross (PDC President), Nicole Fernandez (San Mateo County Democratic Party Chair), and Adrian Fine (Palo Alto Council Member) will lead a discussion about local housing, plans, and how Democrats can present a unified front on issues like rent control and increased housing production.
Please join the Sunnyvale Dems this coming Saturday, June 15th to learn and help prepare questions for candidates, on critical topics including housing, transportation, and climate change.
We’ll learn more about the issues from knowledgeable speakers, and break out into groups to craft questions to find out where candidates stand in the races for State Senate and County Supervisor. You don’t need to be a Sunnyvale resident to attend and participate.
When: Saturday June 15th — 2 to 4 pm Where: Fairbrae Swim Club: 696 Sheraton Drive, Sunnyvale CA Cost: Free!
Can’t make it to the event? Follow the Sunnyvale Democratic Club online, and become a member here.
On June 7, Palo Alto Forward, Peninsula for Everyone, and several other community groups co-hosted a community event with State Senator Scott Wiener to discuss solutions to the housing crisis including the high-profile bill SB-50. We had a full house of a couple hundred people.
SB-50 allows for more homes near transit and multi-family housing in jobs-rich neighborhoods to address a shortage of more than 3 million homes across the state.
We’re excited about the bill and its potential to legalize more housing. Sen. Wiener spoke with us about the details of the plan, and we’ve recapped a couple of the audience’s questions below — condensing/paraphrasing answers where needed.
Question: What’s the right mix of state vs local control?
Sen. Wiener: We should strive for a balance between state and local rules. For instance, we don’t allow school boards to set school years of 30 days a year, or decide to skip teaching math and science. We as a state agree that there should be baseline standards, and allow local communities to have control within those boundaries. As a former local elected official, trust me — no one supports local control more than me. But admittedly, on housing, it hasn’t been working.
Question: How does the imbalance of jobs to housing play into this?
Sen. Wiener: We often hear things like “tech caused the problem, tech needs to solve it.” Respectfully, I think we all caused the problem. Tech didn’t set the land use rules, tech didn’t ban apartments in 75% of California, didn’t create 10-yr approval processes — we as a community did. Some people suggest that tech should build the housing themselves. Even if you agree with the notion that company towns are a good thing and a company should be both landlord and boss – why should we make it easier for them to build housing than other developers? We can let existing developers play their role. And relatedly, I also support tech companies paying their fair share of taxes. Too many successful companies right now are at a 0% Federal tax rate — we all need to do our part to contribute to infrastructure.
Additionally, Sen. Wiener listed some key facts related to housing:
Even as California’s population is increasing, the number of units built is decreasing. The 1980s saw stretches where 300,000 units were built per year — when the state’s population was only 2/3rds of what it is today. For context, last year saw the arrival of only 77,000 units. Even returning to previous levels of building would be a great start to support our economy.
We’re excited to work together with our communities to continue the dialogue about housing solutions.