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Palo Alto looks to accessory dwelling units to address affordability crisis

Original post made on Jul 8, 2021

Encouraged by the recent proliferation of accessory dwelling units in neighborhoods, the city is now exploring incentives that would incentivize homeowners to make these spaces more affordable.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Thursday, July 8, 2021, 9:07 AM

Comments (9)

Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jul 8, 2021 at 11:38 am

Online Name is a registered user.

Put them on Stanford property. Put them on DoorDash property since they won't pay workers reasonably. Put them on the properties of big tech companies like Google and FaceBook that keep employing more contractors without benefits. Put them on the office grounds of lobbying groups like the Chamber of Commerce and Silicon Valley Leadership Group etc.. that keep lobbying to keep foreign contractor wages at $85K to displace full-time workers AND who keep lobbying against businesses paying their fair share.

Put them on the properties of politicians like Berman and Becker who are conveniently "uninformed" about the housing bills before them. Becker says he "needs to wrap his mind around them" while Berman says he's busy, busy with all these complicated bills.


Posted by Andy
a resident of Stanford
on Jul 8, 2021 at 11:43 am

Andy is a registered user.

This illustrates why local gov is either the cause or solution to the housing crisis.

ADU's are the easiest way to build new housing supply on existing property.

They should be encouraged with maximum speed, size and as many units as possible.

High rents are a reflection of low housing supply so restricting rent on ADU's doesn't make sense if we are expanding the housing supply in many ways at the same time. Let the market decide if an ADU is worth more or less than an apartment.

Concerns about losing a tree to build an ADU is as foolish as people afraid of taller structures due to shadows.

Local gov should figure out how to aggressively encourage property owners to make their land available for ADU's.

For every bedroom with a private bath, there is an opportunity for housing so even 2BR/2BA ADU's can possibly help provide housing for 2 different people.

Posted by Andy
a resident of Stanford
on Jul 8, 2021 at 11:50 am

Andy is a registered user.

To the person who said "Put them on the office grounds of lobbying groups like the Chamber of Commerce..."

I actually agree with addition to ADU's on residential properties, we should be putting ADU's or housing on EVERY type of property where it's possible, including parking lots, office complexes.

Some of the ADU's are multiple unit designs that can add a dozen units to a parking lot.

Zoning has traditionally been residential or commercial or office, but to solve the crisis, it should be mixed.

The key is to build housing supply in every scenario, from ADU's to new housing to new mixed use developments.

Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jul 8, 2021 at 3:55 pm

Online Name is a registered user.

Andy, what percentage of the zillions of sq feet of new housing that Google et al are putting in is real below market rate? One you answer that, how what percentage of NEW MARKET rate housing is going in? And how many brand new workers will be competing for the MARKET rate housing and what how much more will the increase the prices?

Posted by Bystander
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 8, 2021 at 5:57 pm

Bystander is a registered user.

Where will the water come from for all the additional housing units?

Will the schools be able to cope with more students?

What about our fragile and inefficient power supply? The number of outages has been increasing in recent years.

What about parking on our streets, particularly when all the extra garbage cans are out for the new ADUs.

We are losing public transportation options so these new residences will have at least one if not two cars.

Privacy issues, light planes, noise levels when windows are open, broadband, will all be impacts of increasing the number of residents on our residential streets.

City Council have to start putting the needs of those of us who live in town above those who want to live here. Vacant office space seems to be everywhere from seeing all the For Lease signs in front of office buildings. Remote work mean that employees can live anywhere now with only the occasional in person meeting at their office. Personal work space is being eliminated in many companies with work stations for those in the office that day becoming a trend. Hybrid work and remote work will become the norm.

Bad time to encourage more ADUs from my perspective.

Posted by Seer
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 11, 2021 at 1:24 pm

Seer is a registered user.

I built an JADU before it was popular, of course, it's really 2 houses in one and the "J" part is a fiction created by a "door". I figured it would be useful for boomeranging children, possibly house swaps where we didn't have to move out of our primary house ... and perhaps a startup incubator if the people needed somewhere to get going for 6 months.

Renting it out is a "eh, maybe". Mostly renting makes me worried about what protections the renters have so that we'd possibly get caught in a months or more year long effort to evict tenants who didn't pay and/or were damaging the property. It happens. Ironically, I'd never ever want a below-market rent on my property. It's been my observation that if you want a super good renter who pays on time and doesn't damage anything, then charge market rate or above.

For people who work in or for the city, why not just build very dense, smaller affordable housing (that could have good public amenities such as workout, kitchen, machine shop etc). And then (as Stanford does for its housing) only people who work for the city or school can rent them. In fact, some of these can be put on school or park lots and they'd serve to deter vandalism with vested owners living right there.

Posted by Annette
a resident of College Terrace
on Jul 11, 2021 at 6:35 pm

Annette is a registered user.

Is there really a sizable group of people in this town of smarties that think ADU production = affordable housing in Palo Alto? I don't doubt that ADUs create income opportunities for those who build them, but given the cost of land, the cost of construction, and market forces, it is likely that the only ADUs that will fall into the "affordable category" are those rented to friends and relatives or maybe those owned by the rare individual who simply wants to contribute to the solution.

Posted by C
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jul 16, 2021 at 5:03 pm

C is a registered user.

> Privacy issues, light planes, noise levels when windows are open, broadband, will all be impacts of increasing the number of residents on our residential streets.

Exactly that. I read a PA Online article that we've reached beyond maximum capacity of residential streets, and now we're going to increase them even more. Brilliant.

Have these Palo Alto officials heard of "Mountain View"? It's a nice place to buy groceries, and, more relevantly, they're building apartments and office buildings like crazy. Believe it or not, people can live there as well, and, if anyone remembers Economics 00001, the increased supply of housing, if it outpaces demand, will lower rents -- especially now that telecommuting has become more popular.

Anyone remember when the McMansions came in? No, they weren't proposed as affordable housing solutions, but they did result in bigger homes that looked like someone stuck a big box on the property. Thankfully, a bigger backyard home won't be as noticeable -- unless you're the neighbor across it, of course.

Who, exactly, will live in these ADU's? If they're not explicitly for lower-income housing, then they'll just be rented to single high-tech workers or become in-law units for the owners. This sort of higher-density housing will benefit the resident, but not necessarily lower income residents, much less yourself as a neighbor. And, if it's for lower-income housing, then landlords have less of an incentive to build them, anyway.

Palo Alto's already building more apartments in the former business areas near Fry's Electronics. Palo Alto seems to be doing a fine job driving out larger businesses with its taxes, so I guess we should do *something* with that land.

Posted by C
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jul 16, 2021 at 11:52 pm

C is a registered user.

With the widespread moratorium on evictions because of the virus, the result have been landlords not being paid rent. Newsome is passing aid relief to landlords, but, overall, it's still a disincentive to rent to lower-income renters, who are more likely to lose their jobs. "Backyard housing" obviously refers to small-time landlords, yet these are the same people who have the most risk when renting their units, particularly to low-income renters.

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