October 11, 2018

Palo Alto: Council Takes Action on Accessory Dwelling Units


On October 1st, the Palo Alto City Council considered and adopted a series of updates to the City’s Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) policies. This ongoing process is a follow up to the implementation of new State ADU requirements enacted in 2017, which led to an increased filing of ADU permit applications in Palo Alto and cities throughout the South Bay. In 2017, homeowners submitted 31 ADU applications. So far this year, the City has received 26 applications, a significant increase from the previous average of four applications per year.

SV@Home commended city staff for their hard work on crafting improvements to the City’s ADU ordinance that went beyond State requirements by making the policies simpler and more flexible. We also advocated that the City strengthen the ordinance by eliminating developer fees, reducing minimum setbacks over garages, and increasing allowable square footage from 800 to 1200 square feet.

During their deliberations, councilmembers discussed the removal of further restrictions on ADU development as well as the possibility of reducing developer fees, especially for deed-restricted ADUs.

In the end, the City Council voted to approve the staff-recommended changes and additionally removed the minimum lot size requirement while instructing staff to further study the impact of waiving developer fees and consider possibilities for streamlining the permit review process.

SV@Home looks forward to further discussions of reducing fees and removing additional barriers to the construction of ADUs in Palo Alto. We will continue to engage with councilmembers and city staff to ensure that the City’s policies allow Palo Alto to best incentivize this important source of affordable housing.