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Recent San Jose data shows that applications for new ADUs were received by the city incompared to the year before. Meanwhile, ADU projects were granted permits to move forward last year, which is more than twice the of permits issued in Indeed, in an attempt to alleviate the housing shortage, San Jose has launched several initiatives, updated its rules for ADU buildings twice and embraced new state laws over the past few years to make the complex process of building a backyard home easier, particularly for people who want to create a single new residential unit in their backyard. The city made its first big changes to the ADU regulations in mid, reducing the minimum lot size for a new backyard home from 5, square feet to 3, square feet, allowing for taller and larger homes to be built. Those changes also allowed for the homes to be built both as a stand-alone and on top of another structure, like a garage. On ADU Tuesdays, a property owner can walk out of City Hall with a permit for their project if no changes are needed for their plan.
San jose: permits for ‘granny units’ spiked last year, but may be bigger
Despite the economic tumble following the onset of the COVID pandemic more than a year ago, San Jose homeowners are still forking over hundreds of thousands of dollars to build backyard homes. Some people build backyard cottages for rental income, while others reserve them for housing older relatives.
The small units are art studios and work-from-home offices. Whatever the motivation, business is booming for home builders that specialize in these compact, and expensive, units. Last year, the city received more than permits for the accessory dwelling units, also called granny units, which allow property owners to build a detached, smaller home on their property. In just the first two months ofthe city received applications, putting it on track to receive about 1, applications to build by the end of the year.
One of the goals of making it easier to build an ADU, city officials said, was to help increase the affordable housing stock in San Jose. The initial goal, set inwas 25, housing units — 10, of them affordable — by The idea has instead been left up to area nonprofits, including Housing Trust of Silicon Valley, which already offers classes to homeowners wanting to build an ADU.
The organization will soon offer financing options to homeowners who pursue an ADU project of their own. In city officials streamlined the permitting process, including dedicated planning appointments and a priority application with the city planning office. Just 18 months agothe only builder allowed to construct these units in San Jose was Abodu, a Redwood City-based housing start up.
The city is also reviewing applications from three new vendors, who will offer their own pre-approved building plans.
Wessling said a few builders are in the process of submitting additional floor plans. Abodu, for example, has three building plans pre-approved by the city, ranging from a square-foot studio to a square-foot two-bedroom. Another builder, Acton ADU, has four plans to choose from, ranging in size from one to two bedrooms.
In other cities where his company works, he said, it can still take six to eight months to get a permit. For homeowner and San Jose State retired professor Terry Christensen, the process of building his square-foot backyard cottage took about two years.
But just getting a permit took nine months back in People do walk away during the process, though city officials say it has less to do with the bureaucratic hoops than cost. Christensen said he rents out the unit part-time to a Bay Area worker commuting from the Lake Tahoe region.
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