Oct 14 2015

City Implementation of Rent Controlled Second Units Recognized by Award

Piedmont Awarded for Developing Many Rent Restricted Second Units for Low and Lowest Income Renters –

The City Council announced with pleasure that it is a recipient of an Award of Merit from the American Planning Association California Chapter (APACC) in the 2014 and 2015 Implementation – Small Jurisdiction category for its Rent-Restricted Second Unit Program. This program is designed to meet the City’s Regional Housing Needs Allocation assigned by the Association of Bay Area Governments, in a way that utilizes Piedmont’s unique housing stock. The award was presented during an APACC conference on Sunday, October 4 at the Oakland City Center Marriott.

The “Implementation: Small Jurisdiction with populations of less than 100,000” award for developing low income housing at a rapid rate is one of more than two dozen award categories recognizing activities in many California cities.

Federal Housing Policy Implemented in Piedmont

The use of second units, also known as “Granny Flats” and “Accessory Dwelling Units,” as affordable housing was a policy that emerged at the beginning of the 1980’s by housing advocates and greenbelt organizations. By 1983 it was an official policy at the Department of Housing and Urban Development in Washington, DC.

How to accomplish this method of affordable housing in single-family zoning was a popular topic at universities, including the Institute of Urban and Regional Development at the University of California at Berkeley, the University of Virginia and elsewhere by 1983.

State Adopted Code to Facilitate Second Units as Affordable Housing

The State of California was quick to pick up on this method of developing affordable housing at no cost to the State–the expense and management responsibilities are handed over to the homeowners. (see Government Code Section 65583.1(a) amended in 2003 and 2010) As all levels of government pounced on the idea of housing production without any public funds, Piedmont also began dealing with the issue of second units in the mid-1980’s. Now, our City Council is thrilled to be commended for actually producing a large number of second units at a rapid pace.

Second units in Piedmont have been created by converting the basements of existing houses, adding an extension behind an existing house, converting an existing garage, or constructing an entirely new building. The accelerated development of second units over the past few years was accomplished through an active advocacy program by City staff that encouraged homeowners who were planning home renovations to consider adding a rent restricted or affordable second unit.

When variances are given for low income units, rent restrictions are required for a period of 10 years, after which units can be rented at market rates.  Any variances, such as parking requirements, continue after the ten year period. Piedmont has proactively given variances for rent restricted units in order to supply low income housing and meet regional housing goals. 

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