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New state laws force Mountain View to loosen rules on in-law units

Original post made on Nov 3, 2020

The Mountain View City Council took a cleaver to its regulations on accessory dwelling units last week, after a new state laws invalidated many of the city's restrictions on in-law units.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Tuesday, November 3, 2020, 10:30 AM

Comments (6)

Posted by Ed
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Nov 3, 2020 at 2:18 pm

Ed is a registered user.

“Year” should be “yard” in “30% of a rear year of a single-family home”.

Posted by Bruce Karney
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Nov 3, 2020 at 2:40 pm

Bruce Karney is a registered user.

"City staff had previously recommended a requirement that ADUs be built with the same architectural style and similar materials as the primary residents, but that too was struck from the ordinance."

Almost all residents, whether primary or secondary, are made of flesh and blood, so I'm really pleased that ADUs will no longer be required to be constructed from those materials. ;)

Posted by ML Kyle
a resident of Monta Loma
on Nov 3, 2020 at 2:54 pm

ML Kyle is a registered user.

I'm furious about this--I tried to build an ADU when I was remodeling my house. But the restrictions were so odious that I couldn't build a reasonable structure. I reached out to Lisa Matichak with this issue and she was an utterly wretched person about this issue. Vote her out.

Posted by SC Parent
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Nov 3, 2020 at 3:16 pm

SC Parent is a registered user.

"But in Mountain View, ADUs are neither plentiful nor affordable. None of the city's ADUs have been deed-restricted for lower-income residents, and city staff say they appear to be rented out at market rate."
Note: The City staff is speculating on the rents being at market rate since they have no data on the rents. Kevin is also speculating that ADUs are not affordable since he has no data on the rents. Kevin - you have data to support ADUs not being plentiful, but not that they're unaffordable.

Has the City reached out to residents with approved ADUs to ask about their experience going through the approval process and what could make it easier? Answer = No. I know this because I have an ADU that was approved in late-2016. I have offered to provide feedback to the City about their ADU process. I have heard nothing but silence.

The City had no idea how to process ADU applications. The various departments didn't communicate and didn't know what they were. The Public Works department wanted to treat it like creating a duplex and add a $6k sewer surcharge. The parks/school fee was over $4k. The Planning Department couldn't figure out whether the ADU had its own "front yard" setback requirements. I had to make multiple trips to City Hall to advocate for my project and try to explain the rules to the City.

In my opinion, what would really boost ADU applications would be:
1) a streamlined and expedited review/approval process
2) a coordinated, interdepartmental partnership review
3) eliminating or reducing the various fees the City charges for ADUs. If I add on 2-bedrooms to my house, I'm not charged these fees, but if I build a 300sf ADU the City wants to charge ~$10k in park/school/sewer fees. There's no difference in the number of people living on the property!
4) increasing the allowable floor-area-ratio (FAR) for a lot with an ADU by 15-20%. Or, don't count unfinished garage square footage in the FAR calculation. MV is an outlier in that it counts garage square footage against how much you can build on your property. A 6,000 square foot lot can support a 2,500sf structure. Subtract 400sf for the existing 2-car garage and you're left with just over 2,000sf for the house. What property owner will limit their own home's allowable footprint to construct an ADU? I'd say about 5 a year (and that's based on data, not guesswork). If the City wants to change people's behavior, they need to incentivize them. Right now, there are no incentives to go through the hassle to build an ADU - only fees.

Final thing: I rented my ADU to a local 4th grade teacher. I charge the minimum rent I can justify as being within the range of "market rate" to avoid those tax penalties. And, over 4 years I've only raised the rent by a grand total of $30/month. That's data.
I'm glad to be able to help out someone in our community by providing an affordable and safe place to stay. MV could be doing much more to expand the ADU program in a responsible way that respects the character of our neighborhoods.

Posted by Anand Hattiangadi
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Nov 3, 2020 at 4:26 pm

Anand Hattiangadi is a registered user.

ML Kyle - NIMBYism... it's what Matichak got into politics to do. I guess we can extend it to - Not In Your Backyard Either!

Posted by Steven Nelson
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Nov 4, 2020 at 12:06 pm

Steven Nelson is a registered user.

We, it appears, will have to deal with Lisa M. on Council in the coming 4 years. :-( even though I voted for her 4 years ago (my bad, I had 'hope').

This is GREAT! The state has shown again that it, and it's SOVEREIGN POWER, is what governs this part of The Republic. It is not local self-interested city council majorities or their professional staffs. Our city staff - wisely decided to ask the council to FOLLOW THE LAW and not FIGHT THE LAWs like our wealthier/ dumber neighbors directly to the South. (saves Millions of Taxpayer dollars)

The City of San Jose has fast-tracked standardized ADU design plans (can come from multiple competing companies) that meet city codes and are guaranteed a Reduction in Fees and quicker Code approval. Pre-build designs to drop-in-place make sense, are speedy, are easy to install, AND easy to remove/sell if next owner "changes their mind".

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