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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8 Responses

  1. Avatar Jist Cuz says:

    ONLY QUESTION: How obstinate is the local POLITICAL.MULE +!+

  2. R.V. Scheide R.V. Scheide says:

    Jeff, there’s no question the state is looking at all options to address the homeless crisis, and if a granny flat or an in-law apartment can help keep a family member or two off the streets, the idea has merit.

    I would be a shame to see the law perverted to provide extra dormitory space for Bethel students.

    • Steve Towers Steve Towers says:

      If you operate under the assumption that Bethel is a fact of life for the foreseeable future, then ADU units rented to Bethel students mean fewer 3-4 bedroom houses being rented to groups of Bethel students. It’s only a zero-sum game only if no additional new housing materializes.

      For years I eyeballed the unsold (or at least undeveloped) corner lots in Lake Redding Estates, where we lived our first couple of years in Redding, and thought they’d be perfect for two smaller 2 bedroom units facing a shared Spanish-style courtyard. (Corner lots suck out loud for large single-family houses, because you end up with a postage stamp-sized back yard.) I assumed, probably correctly, that the duplex concept would violate COR zoning laws or whatever. I understand that someone is suddenly developing these lots. I’ll be interested to see what goes up on those lots.

  3. Avatar James Montgomery says:

    Forgive my ignorance.
    I had to look this up: Accessory Dwelling Units (ADU) are additional living quarters on the same lot as a primary dwelling unit.
    Next- what are ZNE’s? My ignorance seems to be profound.
    Now, then, here is an interesting statement- The City of Redding is moving to achieve low-cost, streamlined permitting. I had to re-read that. Yep, the author really made that statement, so I took my binoculars outside to watch the pigs soaring thru the air.

    • Avatar Tim says:

      Zero net energy, I believe.

      • Avatar James Montgomery says:

        OK. Sounds Californian enough, I guess. I suppose there is a functional definition of that. Does it mean solar mandated, I wonder. Or heat pumps?

        • Avatar Tim says:

          Here’s the definition of a Zero Net Energy building straight from the California Public Utilities Commission: “an energy-efficient building where, on a source energy basis, the actual annual consumed energy is less than or equal to the on-site renewable generated energy.”

          All new California residential buildings permitted in 2020 must be Zero Net Energy (which actually means zero net *electricity* since natural gas usage is currently exempted). The ZNE cost-benefit studies were written with the assumption that builders would use on site solar at an average additional cost of ~$23,000 per home and an additional average annual cost for existing PG&E ratepayers of less than $250/year to cover grid maintenance.

          Buildings unsuitable for solar, like those shaded by trees or in regions often socked in by fog/clouds, can apply to the CPUC for an exemption, but only if they spent “substantial funds” towards the building design prior to 2020. California put out a 325 page pdf on ZNE compliance, but as far as I can tell this is the only relevant section on exemptions:

          The Commission may exempt any building from any provision of Part 6 if it finds that:
          1. Substantial funds had been expended in good faith on planning, designing, architecture, or engineering of the building before the adoption date of the provision; and
          2. Compliance with the requirements of the provision would be impossible without both substantial delays and substantial increases in costs of construction above the reasonable costs of the measures required to comply with the provision.

          Application. The applicant shall submit four copies of a signed application with the following materials to the Executive Director:
          1. A summary of the claimant’s contracts for the project;
          2. A summary of internal financial reports on the project;
          3. Dated schedules of design activities; and
          4. A progress report on project completion.

          Supposedly you should also be able to comply by buying into an offsite solar farm, but I suspect that might only be an option for big developments. I didn’t get that far before my eyes got blurry…

          Again natural gas usage is also exempted, so we may see a resurgence in gas refrigerators and maybe even gas lighting in rural areas. Yay for progress, right?

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