In keeping with the City of Milpitas’ ongoing commitment to providing affordable housing opportunities, the City Council approved the first step in updating City regulations to make it much easier for single-family homeowners to build accessory dwelling units (ADUs) within the City. Following public outreach, as well as comments of both the City Council and the Planning Commission, there was overwhelming support of ADU production within the City, particularly as ADUs are commonly viewed as affordable units by design.
An ADU is essentially a secondary dwelling unit with complete, independent living facilities, including a kitchen and living areas, either attached or detached from a single-family home. They are commonly known as granny flats, in-law units, backyard cottages or secondary units.
Key areas of the updated policy include:
- Allowing ADUs that conform to City ordinance by right (no planning permits required);
- Expanding ADU application from the R-1 to the R-2 single family residential zoning districts;
- Enlarging minimum ADU size to 800 square feet in most of the City and up to 1200 square feet in the Hillside Combine District area;
- Allowing two-story ADU units, including those above a detached garage;
- Allowing conversion of existing garages where city zoning and building code requirements can be met;
- Reducing, and in many cases, exempting additional parking requirements; and
- Reducing side setback to zero, and rear yard setback to 10 feet in most of the City except in the hill area
“This is another example of how Milpitas is dedicated to providing options for affordable housing within our city,” said Milpitas Mayor Richard Tran. “We want to ensure that we, as a city, are making it as easy as possible for single-family homeowners to take advantage of legally constructed accessible dwelling units by simplifying the approval process and reducing costs associated with their creation as an incentive to providing such units at affordable rates for current and future Milpitians.”
On September 27, 2016, Governor Brown signed Senate Bill (SB) 1069 and Assembly Bill (AB) 2299 into law, modifying a local jurisdiction’s ability to regulate ADUs, which became effective on January 1, 2017.
“As a Council, we want to be mindful of balancing potential neighborhood impacts of accessory dwelling units within our City and the undeniable need to look for immediate solutions to affordable housing options,’ said Councilmember Bob Nunez. “The State law was improved and new provisions added were to encourage the construction of ADUs but we, as the City Council, wanted to take it a step further, as we have done by allowing two-story units, allowing conversion of existing garages and reducing set-backs for those residents wishing to construct an ADU as a source of income and, at the same time, provide another housing option that is affordable, as the units are smaller and lower maintenance.”
Based on the direction received from City Council at its January 15, 2019 meeting, staff prepared a draft Zoning Ordinance to modify regulations related to ADUs to comply with the new State law, and also included revisions not required by State law, but introduced to further encourage the production of ADUs.
“I am proud of the staff for working so diligently to develop a policy that ensures consistency with State law and also incorporates community and Council input to incentivize accessory dwelling units within Milpitas,” said Councilmember Anthony Phan. “This has been a long time coming and I urge other cities in the region to consider using this policy as a model and another means of addressing the affordable housing crisis.”
The new Ordinance will be effective 30 days after the final adoption by Council, expected by take place on May 7, 2019.