Joann Sullivan on June 6th, 2017







On January 1, new state legislation (AB 2299 and SB 1069)went into effect, making it easier for homeowners to build Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) on their property. To assist in the rollout of the ADU regulations, newly elected city council member Ben Bartlett formed an ADU Task Force. I am on that task force, as well as other realtors, architects, planners, developers, mortgage specialists and others.

May 31, 2017 was the public kick-off for Berkeley’s ADU campaign. We held a panel discussion at the Oakland Berkeley Association of Realtors which was attended by about 100 realtors. Later that afternoon, a group of us met with the new UC Chancellor and staff from the Terner Center for Housing Innovation to talk about how ADUs could help ease the faculty housing crisis at UC Berkeley.

The new laws require all cities to adopt ADU regulations that are not more restrictive than the state standards. Cities must allow the ADUs “by right” with no public hearing and must issue permits within 120 days if the units meet the new state standards.  Berkeley has adopted new standards based on the state law.

These new standards ease and/or eliminate the need for parking if the ADU meets certain requirements. Cities may specify the size and height of the ADUs. For Berkeley, the maximum size is 750 square feet; for Oakland, 800 square feet.

A third law, AB2406, gives cities the option of creating a “junior accessory dwelling unit.” This is a unit created within the house which has an efficiency kitchen and interior connections to the main house. It does not require a private bathroom.

The goal of the ADU Task Force is for Berkeleyans to create 1700 ADUs by 2020. The new laws will not come close to solving the housing crisis in the Bay Area. They will create options for middle-income renters who do not qualify for market rate apartments or low income housing. They could also help homeowners meet their mortgage payments, seniors stay in their homes with an on-site caregiver and multigenerational families live close, but not too close, to each other.

Leave a Reply