Heads up on Housing Policy – 2nd Unit Policy Set to Change, Subsidies Proposed

City of Redding housing policy initiatives deserve close attention. 2nd unit regulation is up for change, driven by generously funded regulatory mandates. We are witnessing the State’s attempt to address the housing crisis via forced, but well-funded deregulation. The State is willing to pay millions to sweep away decades of restrictions on what are now called Accessory Dwelling Units, or ADUs. Public input is an important element in program design. Now is an excellent time for the community to rally with the City to foster substantial and needed change in housing policy.

In essence, well-funded ADU subsidies are offered to communities that allow ADUs. Redding’s share: A one-time award of $1.5 Million in Disaster Relief funding, plus $310,000 for planning this year and approximately $430,000 each year thereafter for program spending. Recurring funds stem from the newly enacted SB 2 $75 per recorded instrument Affordable Homes and Jobs Act tax. Excuse me, the proper term is fee, not tax. Shasta County, Anderson, and SLC are likewise eligible for the same generous ADU subsidies, subject to the same restrictions.

Redding’s approach to encouraging ADUs is intriguing: Create a ‘Good to Go’ Program featuring pre-approved ADUs, pre-solving ADU permitting complexities to achieve low-cost, streamlined permitting. The goal is to provide a simple path for ADUs to be permitted, constructed and occupied. Every local jurisdiction should want to join in this ‘Good to Go’ initiative. If an ADU is ‘Good to Go’ in Redding, it should be good to go in Shasta County, or Anderson, or SLC. Sharing costs and magnifying impacts of a similarly funded program seems in everyone’s best interest.

Tools to encourage ADU development include to-be-determined levels of subsidy, applied in a to-be-determined fashion, for to-be-determined recipients, in a to-be-determined manner. Civic inputs in the ‘to-be-determined’ column will make a huge difference in program design. If your interest is handicapped accessible ADUs, or ADUs for homeless veterans, short-term rental of ADUs, or solar tariffs for ADUs, now is an excellent time to participate.

It doesn’t matter if Redding or Shasta County wants permissive ADU regulation or not. The words in State law are plainly and permissively written. ADUs are allowed, period. 2nd units were a common housing feature of the past. They’re about to become a common housing feature again.

The ship of state generally turns slowly. We’re about to witness an about face policy maneuver. The process by which change occurs should be of particular interest. Simplifying government to minimal levels in the ADU permitting process will be a show to watch.

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Jeff Morrow is the operating partner of Affordable Housing Associates, and a proponent of entrepreneurial communities. Affordable Housing Associates produces accessory dwelling unit home kits, which in January will be required to be ZNE, even if located in the shade.
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