Jun 7 2012

Is Your House on the List?

Piedmont to Create “Suspected” and “Illegal” List of Second Units-

In case you missed it, last year (2011) the Piedmont City Council adopted a new policy that assumes empty rooms in Piedmont homes represent a public resource, and that it is appropriate to use leverage on Piedmont residents to create more second units in Piedmont homes.

A list of homes with “Illegal” and “Suspected” second units will be created. Staff intends to “work with” Piedmont residents to convert rooms in their homes to legal second units.  If voluntary action is not taken, or proves to be impossible, it was unclear what City action would result.

The List is described in the Housing Element as being “confidential.” 

Proactive Steps for Homes on “The List”

The policy states that staff will “take proactive steps” to realize the potential for homes on the List to help meet the City’s affordable housing needs.  Actions encompassed by the term “proactive steps” were not defined, but staff did note,

“The address data base of “suspected” and “illegal” second units is an important resource.  The illegal status of such units provides leverage to convert them into rent-restricted units.”

The new policy, designated Program 3C, was adopted by the City Council as part of its Housing Element and certified by the State of California Department of Housing and Community Development after extensive negotiations with the state.

Unintended and Vacant on the List, too

In addition to “Suspected” or “Illegal” properties,  any home containing an “Unintended” second unit will be added to the List for “proactive steps”.   At least 117 homes in Piedmont fall into this category as of 2009, according to staff.  Examples of an “unintended second unit” provided in the Housing Element or in explanatory descriptions prepared by staff include:

  • any home with 2 kitchens (“kitchen” not defined)
  • any home having habitable space over a garage, in a basement, or in an attic
  • pool houses with indoor cooking facilities
  • basements with kitchens, bathrooms and separate entrances

Another category of homes to be placed on the List is any home with a legal second unit that is vacant or used as guest quarters for family members, or as a home office.  According to staff,

“These legal units are a housing resource for the City, and steps should be taken to incentivize their use as rental apartments.”

Monitored, but not on the List

Lots in the Estate Zone E will be “monitored”, as well as homes in Zone A (single family residence) on a lot larger than 20,000 square feet.  These homes will not be placed on the List.  But if an application for a “major home addition” is submitted, owners will be advised of the opportunity to add a legal second unit.   The term “major” is not defined.

LINK:  Housing Element with Staff Notations and Additions to Text Noted. (Refer to p. 6-17, et. seq.)


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