In-law Quarters

California Easing Housing Restrictions: "The biggest thing that’s happened in 15 years"

Recently in California a groundbreaking law was enacted to give much needed relief to the high demand of Bay Area residential housing. Within the past year, the Bay area has received a great deal of attention for having three of the ten most expensive cities to live in the country. Many middle class and low income residents are being priced out of their communities and forced to find alternative options due to price increases and competitive demand for housing and rental units. As of this year state lawmakers are making efforts to address these issues by allowing residents to utilize their existing property to supplement the housing shortage.

Many Bay Area resident's solution to this problem is moving into the secondary commuter towns outside the main hub of the Bay Area, downsizing or moving into family living situations. Many of the the residents most affected by the hike in prices are the elderly, poor, and young people that are on a fixed income, work in low skilled jobs, or attend school. A popular solution is opting to live with relatives or finding unique living alternatives.

This increase in demand has spurred an influx of home owners looking to utilize their loft spaces, garage units, or secondary units. Some are looking to build onto their existing structures or even add a secondary unit, such as “in-law” or “granny” unit, to their property to accommodate or capitalize on the demand for alternative living situations. Many of these homeowners have faced friction when attempting to exercise their options to accommodate additional residents, but as of January 1st 2017 many homeowners and residents are receiving support from state lawmakers to try to ease the housing shortage. The Mercury News did a piece on this topic that laid out the intent of the law stating:   

From: Mercury News    

In a move proponents say will help ease the Bay Area’s housing crisis, Gov. Jerry Brown on Tuesday signed Senate Bill 1069, making the so-called “granny units” easier and less expensive to build throughout the state.

Supporters of the bill, including the Bay Area Council, argue that easing restrictions could spur the creation of more affordable housing, especially in a region where rent has skyrocketed.

“The governor’s action is an important step in addressing California’s massive housing shortage,” Jim Wunderman, president and CEO of the Bay Area Council, said in a statement. “The success of SB 1069 represents a major victory for thousands of Californians who are struggling under the weight of skyrocketing rents and home prices.”

The bill’s author, Sen. Bob Wieckowski, D-Fremont, said that when he was working in city government years ago few of these units were being built, largely because of the high amount of fees homeowners had to pay. “It’s the biggest thing that’s happened in 15 years to relieve some of these barriers and return that power to the homeowner,” Wieckowski said.
If just 10 percent of the Bay Area’s 1.5 million owners of single-family homes created granny flats for family members or other tenants, that would add 150,000 new units, the Bay Area Council estimates.
— Queenie Wong | Mercury News

In response to this new law, right now is a great opportunity to expand the utility and value of your property by capitalizing on the streamlined process designed to relieve communities of price and rent  increases over the next couple of years. In addition, because of innovative opportunities like AirBnb and Kid & Coe that allow property owners to connect directly with renters or travelers, we are likely to see a trend of growth in the development of alternative housing.  It may be an opportunity worth considering for many residents in the Bay Area seeking extra income or an increase in the value of their homes.