HOUSING CHALLENGES & GETTING CREATIVE

We’re all pretty familiar with the cost of housing in our region.  It’s getting to be cause for some serious creativity.  People are beginning to look more and more to adding a second “little home” or dwelling in their backyards.

Home owners are exploring or creating alternative living space for visiting in-laws, boomerang college kids, caregivers, aging parents, renters, etc.  With the availability of pre-made accessory sheds, and how-to “little home” TV shows, magazines and websites, the interest and ability for adding increased livable space is within reach. The City of San Mateo Planning department has the latest information on what can be built, when permits are required, and how homeowners can enjoy adding additional space on their properties.

If you are thinking of the same, know the difference between a secondary unit versus an accessory building.  Accessory buildings are exempt from the requirement for interior side and rear yards as long as they are separate from the main building by an area not less than 4 feet in width, and open to the sky. They can be located in the rear 1/3 of of a housing parcel without setback from property line. They cannot cover more than 1/2 of a required back yard, have no additional parking requirement.  Secondary Units, or “Granny” units, must be permitted and are subject to setbacks and zoning regulations. They are either attached or detached from the main house, and have requirements and limits on occupancy.  Size restrictions cannot exceed 640 sq. ft., placement must be in the back or side yard, and an additional parking space is required.

The BHNA will gauge the interest of our members regarding little homes, and likely plan to have the Planning Commission come speak at an upcoming General Meeting.  Stay tuned!