SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. – Perhaps you know of them as mother-in-law units, tiny houses in the backyard or an extra apartment above a garage for renters. The term Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) has become a popular one in describing these types of housing as the affordable housing conversation turns towards solutions.
From the California Department of Housing and Community Development:
What are the benefits of ADUs?
– ADUs are an affordable type of home to construct in California because they do not require paying for land, major new infrastructure, structured parking, or elevators.
– ADUs can provide a source of income for homeowners.
– ADUs are built with cost-effective wood frame construction, which is significantly less costly than homes in new multifamily infill buildings.
– ADUs allow extended families to be near one another while maintaining privacy.
– ADUs can provide as much living space as many newly-built apartments and condominiums, and they’re suited well for couples, small families, friends, young people, and seniors.
– ADUs give homeowners the flexibility to share independent living areas with family members and others, allowing seniors to age in place as they require more care.
While these seem like the perfect solution to the affordable housing shortage in South Lake Tahoe, it’s not an easy one.
In California’s Governor Gavin Newsome budget he plans to punish cities and counties that don’t meet their targeted housing goals, something that can lead to fines he fines could range from $10,000 to $600,000 per month.
While that is good for proponents of affordable housing in the state, rules on ADUs at Lake Tahoe are created by the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency (TRPA): They are not allowed except for areas that fall into two categories: the property is at least one acres in size or the property is in the Barton Hospital area.
The South Tahoe Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors voted last week to support ADUs that fit CA Senate Bill 1226, making those once illegal to be made legal if certain health and safety and permitting conditions are met. They also said they support existing CA law that states ADU’s can be built to include all zoning districts that allow single-family uses, modifying fees from utilities, such as special districts and water corporations, and reducing parking requirements.
“The Board further urges all governmental entities and quality affordable housing advocates to work together to ensure that the provisions of California Law are implemented within the City of South Lake Tahoe and other areas of the region as appropriate. The Board notes that local governments in implementing the Law should be mindful of protecting and preserving the quality of life in existing single-family residential areas in the City and region,” said their proclamation.
The Chamber President Amanda Adams said they urge for all groups in the community to ban together and get on the same page and put pressure on TRPA to loosen their regulations.
Last fall, TRPA did expand its Residential Bonus Unit Program. Applicants constructing affordable, moderate-income, or achievable homes are now eligible for bonus units from the TRPA. A bonus unit is awarded at no cost to the applicant if the home or homes are within one-half mile of a transit center, along with some other rules including that it cannot be used as a vacation home rental.
This rule fits a small area of South Lake Tahoe and the South Tahoe Chamber urges that stipulation to be removed. While they don’t expect hundreds of people to run out and added ADUs if approved, they do expect some to add them. Adams, who is a real estate agent, said some of her customers are asking for properties where these can be added.