Council Works to Tap New Source of Affordable Housing

Simple policy changes by cities around the Bay Area to ease permitting of secondary units could produce a tsunami of affordable housing. That was the thrust of a discussion by the Council’s Housing Committee on Tuesday under the leadership of Co-Chairs Denise Pinkston of TMG Partners and Kofi Bonner of Lennar Urban. And securing region-wide changes to secondary unit regulations is one of the Council’s lead policy priorities.

The Committee heard from UC Berkeley Professor Karen Chapple whose research demonstrates local level rule changes can have a huge impact on the feasibility of secondary units. In Berkeley, eliminating zoning lot size minimums would almost double the number of parcels that qualify for a secondary unit. In El Cerrito, reducing the parking requirements would increase the parcels eligible three times over!

Bay Area cities such as Oakland and Berkeley have become housing heroes with their progressive legislation to enable more secondary units. And this is just the first step. Ed Manasse, Strategic Planning Manager for the city of Oakland, revealed that the city is examining the option of providing sample model plans to help residents say, “Yes in my backyard!”, a tactic that significantly expanded secondary unit adoption in Santa Cruz.

To get involved in the Council’s housing work, please contact Policy Associate Rachele Trigueros.

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