Alameda Accessory Dwelling Units


Effective January 1, 2017, California State Assembly Bills 2299 and State Senate Bill 1069 is now the law of the land. The bills, which recognizes the value of Accessory Dwelling Units in easing the housing shortage, modifies California Government Code Section 65852.2, which governs how local government regulate these pint-sized units, commonly dubbed in-law units, granny flats, secondary units, or backyard cottages, among other terms. Although the law has several mandatory elements, it gives municipalities some flexibility in implementing their own ordinances to align with state law.
In response, Alameda passed an ordinance regulating ADU construction and the City Council is keeping a finger on its implementation to track the results and go back to the drawing board, if need be. This ordinance “addresses our housing shortage, as required by State law, while providing well needed housing opportunities that respect the unique character of our neighborhoods”, according to this Alameda Sun Article. “It’s a small step in the right direction”, it concludes, and Bornstein Law concurs.
Alameda homeowners can entertain building an ADU within an existing structure throughout all single-family residential zoning districts. Detached ADUs are relegated to the Second Unit Overlay District. 15 feet is the maximum allowable height of an ADU, and the structure must meet the same setback and coverage limits as the primary residence.
Prior to the legal and political winds that have recently blown in the favor of ADUs, one of the biggest hurdles to new construction were onerous parking requirements that attempted to address the often-misplaced concerns of density. Like Oakland, Alameda now only requires new parking space if the previous parking space or garage was transformed into an ADU. Following a caveat often adapted by other locales, Alameda homeowners cannot have a revolving door of short term rentals, as the ordinance prohibits tenancies of less than 30 days.
The City of Alameda has provided further guidance on the ADU Clearance process in this PDF application and attempts to answer frequently asked questions in this document.
Of course, these resources are no substitution for a one-on-one consultation with a real estate attorney that has a solid grasp of the myriad rules to building an in-law unit in Alameda, or legalizing a currently illegal unit. For over two decades, Bornstein Law has been in the trenches learning the complex and ever-changing regulations to protect the rights of property owners in Alameda and throughout the Bay Area.