What are ADUs?

What are ADUs?

An Accessory Dwelling Unit, or ADU, is
a secondary housing unit on a residential lot. You might be familiar
with many types of secondary houses, such as backyard cottages, granny
flats, laneway houses, or DADUs (Detached Accessory Dwelling Unit),
depending on the jurisdiction. But ADUs in San Jose and many other
cities on the West Coast have a special importance nowadays.  Effective
as of July 27, 2018, the San Jose City Council approved new
rules
easing the
requirements on building secondary units. The rules are part of San
Jose’s plans to increase population density and create more affordable
housing.

San Jose and other West Coast cities like Portland and  Seattle have
turned to ADUs as either a solution to the housing problem or as a tool
to provide property owners with additional passive income. San Jose has
a very low population density as a result of “uncoordinated growth and
expansion without concern for its consequences, in short, unplanned,
incremental urban growth which is often regarded unsustainable", better
known as urban sprawl.
 This changed when San Jose turned to controlled development as defined
in the Envision San Jose 2040 General
Plan
adopted by San Jose
City Council in November 2011. To implement the goals of the 2040
General Plan, the City Council changed the zoning to enable the
construction of multiple-unit properties in areas currently occupied by
single family residences (SFR’s).

There are a lot of benefits to the new rules for the community and the
future development of the city of San Jose. The new rules will create
more affordable housing opportunities for the community and provide
additional rental income opportunity for homeowners. In addition, they
will also provide housing to extended family members or disabled
persons, promote development without significant changes to a
neighborhood's character, and encourage the use of public
transportation. And finally, the new rules bring additional tax revenue
to the city.

According to Emily DeRuy’s article, San Jose relaxes rules around
granny flats in Mercury
News,

“As the cost of housing in San Jose continues to soar, the city is
making it easier for residents to build small dwellings on their
property — and, for the first time, they can have two bedrooms”.  As
stated in the Housing Trust of Silicon Valley website, around 103,000
single-family lots in San Jose are eligible for these accessory dwelling
units. Interest appears to be growing; the zoning changes will make
granny flats a possibility on an additional 18,000 lots. The planning
commission has said the changes will help add sorely needed affordable
housing within already developed neighborhoods “while maintaining the
existing character and feel of these neighborhoods.”

The new ADU regulation makes sense for a booming city like San Jose as
well as many other cities in the US that already struggle with housing
shortages. These regulations will bring additional income to homeowners
which will ultimately bring revenue to the city in the form of taxes.

In my next post I will write on the financing of ADUs and how HomeBrik
can match property owners with investors.

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