News

Around Town: Much ADU about housing; finding the right angles

Also, Cantor Arts Center receives substantial addition to its photography collection

In the latest Around Town column, granny units are on the rise in south Palo Alto, C-SPAN recognizes young video documentarians from Paly and Cantor Arts Center adds 1,000 photographs to its permanent collection.

MUCH ADU ABOUT HOUSING ... It's been almost two years since Palo Alto passed a new law that loosened restrictions for accessory dwelling units (ADUs), with the goal of encouraging more such units throughout the city. Now, the program appears to be bearing fruit, with south Palo Alto leading the way. According to an update that the city's Department of Planning and Community Environment released earlier this month, the city received 54 permit applications from residents for new ADUs in 2018, up from 28 in 2017. Overall, the city had issued 45 permits in the two years, the report states. While ADUs are a relatively small piece of the city's housing puzzle (historically, the city had only issued about four ADU permits per year), city officials hope that they will gradually become more popular. While only 11 ADUs have been constructed since early 2017 (others are in progress), the number is expected to increase as more properties become eligible for these structures. In December 2018, the city further revised its ADU requirements, removing a "minimum lot size" requirement that limited ADUs to relatively large parcels and waiving the impact fees for garage conversions and "junior ADUs." In the final quarter of 2018, the city had received 11 permit applications for ADUs, of which nine came from south Palo Alto. Ten of the 11 applications (including all nine in south Palo Alto) were for properties zoned for single-family use, while one was for a property in a multifamily residential zone. The new units vary greatly in size and configuration, with the smallest one comprising 328 square feet and the largest one 794 square feet (the average size is about 500 square feet). Five of the 11 are brand new units, while the remaining six are converted garages. City Manager Ed Shikada highlighted the promising trend during last month's City Council retreat. Planning Director Jonathan Lait said during the retreat that while it's too early to identify trends, it's clear the city is producing more such units than it had in the past. "We did anticipate there will be more (permits) in the second year ... as people get familiar with the ordinance," Lait said.

FINDING THE RIGHT ANGLES ... Three student teams from Palo Alto High School are among 340 winners in C-SPAN's national 2019 StudentCam competition, the public affairs network announced on Wednesday. Each team earned third place and a $750 prize for their work, which challenged them to address the question "What does it mean to be an American?" The contest required them to select a constitutional right, national characteristic or historic event, then show how it defines "the American experience." The local winning teams were Alex Selwyn and Ben Stein, who produced "Young, Undocumented and Alone"; Catherine Reller, Ryan Seto and Paige Thomas for "Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness"; and Emilie Difede, Isabelle Koutsoyanis and Blake Elfsten for "Striving for Gender Equality." "Each year, we are impressed and inspired by Palo Alto area students' insight and creativity tackling national issues through their short videos. This year's winners creatively portrayed what it means to be American," Lorena Hernandez, Comcast's California director of community impact, said in a statement.

CAPTURED MOMENTS ... Stanford University's Cantor Arts Center is now home to 1,000 photographs by American artists including Ansel Adams, Helen Levitt and Edward Weston, the university announced in a press release on Monday. The works were donated by Capital Group Foundation, which also contributed $2 million to create a curatorial fellow position and support the exhibition. The museum was selected after a two-year nationwide search of 20 institutions."For years the collection of photographs has been absolutely essential to how the Cantor Arts Center presents photography in our galleries and study rooms, and now this gift will transform how the museum addresses the aesthetic and social concerns of 20th-century American art," Elizabeth Mitchell, the university's Burton and Deedee McMurtry curator, said in a statement. Mitchell is assembling an exhibit featuring the new photographs set to open in September. Plans are underway for another two exhibits in 2020.

What's local journalism worth to you?

Support Palo Alto Online for as little as $5/month.

Learn more

Follow Palo Alto Online and the Palo Alto Weekly on Twitter @paloaltoweekly, Facebook and on Instagram @paloaltoonline for breaking news, local events, photos, videos and more.

Around Town: Much ADU about housing; finding the right angles

Also, Cantor Arts Center receives substantial addition to its photography collection

by / Palo Alto Weekly

Uploaded: Sat, Mar 16, 2019, 9:06 am
Updated: Mon, Mar 18, 2019, 8:15 am

In the latest Around Town column, granny units are on the rise in south Palo Alto, C-SPAN recognizes young video documentarians from Paly and Cantor Arts Center adds 1,000 photographs to its permanent collection.

MUCH ADU ABOUT HOUSING ... It's been almost two years since Palo Alto passed a new law that loosened restrictions for accessory dwelling units (ADUs), with the goal of encouraging more such units throughout the city. Now, the program appears to be bearing fruit, with south Palo Alto leading the way. According to an update that the city's Department of Planning and Community Environment released earlier this month, the city received 54 permit applications from residents for new ADUs in 2018, up from 28 in 2017. Overall, the city had issued 45 permits in the two years, the report states. While ADUs are a relatively small piece of the city's housing puzzle (historically, the city had only issued about four ADU permits per year), city officials hope that they will gradually become more popular. While only 11 ADUs have been constructed since early 2017 (others are in progress), the number is expected to increase as more properties become eligible for these structures. In December 2018, the city further revised its ADU requirements, removing a "minimum lot size" requirement that limited ADUs to relatively large parcels and waiving the impact fees for garage conversions and "junior ADUs." In the final quarter of 2018, the city had received 11 permit applications for ADUs, of which nine came from south Palo Alto. Ten of the 11 applications (including all nine in south Palo Alto) were for properties zoned for single-family use, while one was for a property in a multifamily residential zone. The new units vary greatly in size and configuration, with the smallest one comprising 328 square feet and the largest one 794 square feet (the average size is about 500 square feet). Five of the 11 are brand new units, while the remaining six are converted garages. City Manager Ed Shikada highlighted the promising trend during last month's City Council retreat. Planning Director Jonathan Lait said during the retreat that while it's too early to identify trends, it's clear the city is producing more such units than it had in the past. "We did anticipate there will be more (permits) in the second year ... as people get familiar with the ordinance," Lait said.

FINDING THE RIGHT ANGLES ... Three student teams from Palo Alto High School are among 340 winners in C-SPAN's national 2019 StudentCam competition, the public affairs network announced on Wednesday. Each team earned third place and a $750 prize for their work, which challenged them to address the question "What does it mean to be an American?" The contest required them to select a constitutional right, national characteristic or historic event, then show how it defines "the American experience." The local winning teams were Alex Selwyn and Ben Stein, who produced "Young, Undocumented and Alone"; Catherine Reller, Ryan Seto and Paige Thomas for "Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness"; and Emilie Difede, Isabelle Koutsoyanis and Blake Elfsten for "Striving for Gender Equality." "Each year, we are impressed and inspired by Palo Alto area students' insight and creativity tackling national issues through their short videos. This year's winners creatively portrayed what it means to be American," Lorena Hernandez, Comcast's California director of community impact, said in a statement.

CAPTURED MOMENTS ... Stanford University's Cantor Arts Center is now home to 1,000 photographs by American artists including Ansel Adams, Helen Levitt and Edward Weston, the university announced in a press release on Monday. The works were donated by Capital Group Foundation, which also contributed $2 million to create a curatorial fellow position and support the exhibition. The museum was selected after a two-year nationwide search of 20 institutions."For years the collection of photographs has been absolutely essential to how the Cantor Arts Center presents photography in our galleries and study rooms, and now this gift will transform how the museum addresses the aesthetic and social concerns of 20th-century American art," Elizabeth Mitchell, the university's Burton and Deedee McMurtry curator, said in a statement. Mitchell is assembling an exhibit featuring the new photographs set to open in September. Plans are underway for another two exhibits in 2020.

Comments

Resident
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 15, 2019 at 9:05 am
Resident, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 15, 2019 at 9:05 am
11 people like this

It would have been very useful if you had included parking impacts in this mini article. Are these new units providing additional offstreet parking? Are these units reducing parking? If a garage is converted to a granny flat (which is what we were told these were going to be), what will that mean for parking at that address.

Additionally, what will this mean to utilities? Will the granny flat have its own garbage cans? Will the address still have to use the same size cans? Will they have to pay extra utilities charges?

So many unknowns and not enough information.


Make PA Greater Aye
The Greenhouse
on Mar 15, 2019 at 9:32 am
Make PA Greater Aye, The Greenhouse
on Mar 15, 2019 at 9:32 am
5 people like this

Congrats to Cantor on landing the pics!

Congrats to the auteurs of:
- "Young, Undocumented and Alone"
- "Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness"
- "Striving for Gender Equality."


EZ To Get Around The Rules
Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Mar 16, 2019 at 1:46 pm
EZ To Get Around The Rules, Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Mar 16, 2019 at 1:46 pm
9 people like this

> If a garage is converted to a granny flat (which is what we were told these were going to be)...

We converted our garage into a granny unit & allow the tenant's car to be parked inside providing it is an EV...so no carbon monoxide poisoning considerations.

With a three car garage, this is very easy to accomplish & there's no reason to even bother getting a building permit as the ADU will rent quickly & most prospective tenants are willing to keep quiet about out-of-code dwellings for a good rental rate.


Use?
Old Palo Alto
on Mar 16, 2019 at 4:45 pm
Use?, Old Palo Alto
on Mar 16, 2019 at 4:45 pm
5 people like this

Will there be any way to monitor how many of these ADUs are rented to tenants vs. being used for such things as rec. rooms, offices, and even pool houses?


Greenacres
Green Acres
on Mar 16, 2019 at 9:06 pm
Greenacres, Green Acres
on Mar 16, 2019 at 9:06 pm
5 people like this

If the City starts a program to make preapproved plans available and funding/construction help, I'll put one in my backyard and rent it BMR to a teacher...


rental or Airbnb?
College Terrace
on Mar 17, 2019 at 4:32 pm
rental or Airbnb?, College Terrace
on Mar 17, 2019 at 4:32 pm
11 people like this

It would be helpful to know how many of these ADUs are used as rentals (which help alleviate the shortage of affordable housing units) or illegal Airbnb units, which negatively impact neighbors, without having any positive impact on the local shortage of affordable rental units


@ EZ
Registered user
Adobe-Meadow
on Mar 18, 2019 at 11:22 am
@ EZ, Adobe-Meadow
Registered user
on Mar 18, 2019 at 11:22 am
5 people like this

Most Palo Alto houses do not have a three-car garage. Some have a two-car garage while many others have a one-car garage. Not getting a building permit is a health and safety violation. How do we know that the work was done safely and is not a firetrap. Some of these illegal garage conversions had fires in East Palo Alto.

Get a permit and do the work legally and safely.


PA Slum Lord
Midtown
on Mar 18, 2019 at 7:15 pm
PA Slum Lord, Midtown
on Mar 18, 2019 at 7:15 pm
7 people like this

Makeshift ADUs on the side of or behind the garage are the most economical to build. Just install a toilet/shower & you are ready to go. Advertise it as a studio dwelling with no kitchen...just a small refrigerator/microwave & a hotplate. Add a small ceramic heater for wintertime & that's about it.

EZ $2500 a month with utilities & wifi extra! We own three rental houses in PA & charge $4.5K monthly. Each house has a garage ADU rented seperately from the house. That comes to $21K per month or roughly $250k a year in EZ rent!

The houses are pre-Prop 13 so our property taxes are about $3.5K total + minimal homeowner's insurance as the tenants are required to have renter's insurance that also covers liability.

Rent is paid in CASH so record keeping is kept to a minimum (along with our W-2s).
Haven't worked a regular job for the last 15 years thanks to the housing crunch.



Don't miss out on the discussion!
Sign up to be notified of new comments on this topic.

Post a comment

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.