Jan 9 2020

Developers Get Their Way in Getting Rid of Piedmont Single-family Zoning

No more single-family housing zones in Piedmont.

Piedmonters who falsely relied on Piedmont’s City Charter and voters rights to protect single-family zoning in Piedmont have lost their authority under new state legislation changing Piedmont and housing in California by opening development opportunities while eliminating Charter City rights and public input in determining  housing requirements.  

Piedmont housing is dramatically impacted by the signing in October 2019 of state legislation AB 68, AB 881, and SB 13.  The legislation was unopposed by Piedmont’s City Council.  The laws essentially eliminate Piedmont’s  single-family zoning which was controlled by Piedmont’s City Charter and voting rights.

While some cities strenuously resist AB 68, AB 881, and SB 13, Piedmont’s City Council guided by the Piedmont Planning Department has stepped in line to become a different city by discarding Piedmont voters’ rights specified in the Piedmont City Charter to either support or oppose the changes.

Developers for decades, who have wanted to change and densify Piedmont, will now have “by right” without public input the ability to densify  Piedmont properties up to 3 units on a former single-family property.

At 5:30 p.m. on January 13, 2020, the Piedmont Planning Commission will review an ordinance amending Chapter 17 (Planning and Land Use) of the City Code to conform the City’s regulations regarding Accessory Dwelling Units to new state laws and make a recommendation to the City Council.  See staff report below.

A week later, at 7:30 p.m. on January 21, 2020, the City Council will consider the proposed ordinance and the recommendation of the Planning Commission and could approve the first reading of the ordinance.

Both meetings will be  held at City Hall, 120 Vista Avenue, City Council Chambers and will be televised via the City website under videos.

Background – 

On January 1, 2020, new state laws came into effect which limit a local jurisdiction’s ability to regulate Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs). These units are frequently referred to as “Granny Units” or “Secondary Units.” With the new legislation, parcels can contain up to 3 units without the owner being a resident. 

The Piedmont staff believes and interprets existing state law to require extensive reduction in resident planning for a desirable single-family community.

  According to the staff provisions affected by the changes to state law include, but are not limited to:

  • ministerial review and approval of all ADU permit applications= no public hearings  or neighborhood input
  • off-street parking requirements = off-street parking requirements eliminated
  • garages can be converted to ADU’s with no set back requirements
  • unit size limitations on applications = size increases 
  • approval timelines = 60 day term
  • owner occupancy requirement  = owner no longer needs to be a resident on the property
  • allowance for junior accessory dwelling units (JADUs) = Small ADU
  • ADUs on multi-family properties = increased densities
  • ADUs that must be approved by-right
  • allowance for 3 dwelling units on a property
  • setback requirements in certain situations = eliminated

“Local laws which do not conform to these new state standards are preempted and cannot be enforced. City staff has developed the proposed ordinance which will be considered by the Planning Commission and the City Council to conform Piedmont’s ADU regulations to the new state law.”  Piedmont Planning Department

Link to staff report:


Documents on the City Website

Documents related to this effort are available on the City website. A staff report to the Planning Commission dated January 13, 2020 is provided on the website (see Agenda Report mid-webpage). It includes the proposed changes that will bring the City’s regulations for ADUs into compliance with the new state laws, while preserving the City’s rent-restricted ADU program, as well as the City’s ability to regulate ADUs and JADUs.

The Planning Commission’s responsibility is to make a recommendation for consideration by the City Council, which is the decision-making body. The City Council staff report for this item will be posted on the City website no later than 12 noon on Friday, January 17, 2020.

Public Engagement:

Following no consideration of the legislation by the Piedmont City Council, the legislation was signed in October 2019.  Piedmont is now moving to an expedited review and rapid adoption of a new ordinance, which does not comply with the Piedmont City Charter.

According to the City, the opportunity for public input is available throughout this rapidly moving process. Interested members of the public are encouraged to attend the public meetings. Both the Planning Commission meeting on January 13, 2020 and the City Council meeting on January 21, 2020 will be televised live on KCOM-TV, the City’s government access TV station and available through streaming video on the City’s web site at piedmont.ca.gov/

Written comments regarding the proposed ordinance may be sent to the City Council and Planning Commission via email to: :@piedmont.ca.gov. Comments intended for the Planning Commission’s consideration preferably should  be submitted by 5 p.m., Thursday, January 9, 2020 for distribution to the Planning Commission.

Comments can be sent to the Piedmont City Council for their first consideration on Jan. 21. 


To send comments via U.S. Mail, use the following address: Piedmont City Council c/o City Clerk, 120 Vista Avenue, Piedmont, CA 94611.

If you have questions about the ordinance, contact Planning & Building Director Kevin Jackson by email at kjackson@piedmont.ca.gov. Any correspondence sent to the City will be considered a public record.

Contact: Kevin Jackson, Planning and Building Director at Tel: (510) 420-3039   Fax: (510) 658-3167  kjackson@piedmont.ca.gov.

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