Transitioners in action: Vikki Velkoff on Creative Housing Solutions

Housing availability and cost are critical problems in the Bay Area, and Vikki Velkoff wants to change that. She’s intrigued by the tiny house movement – how tiny houses save money while reducing the housing footprint in a big way. She’s also become active in promoting accessory dwelling units (ADUs), which could help solve the housing problem locally without requiring large new developments.

 vikki for newsletter
Vikki writes:
Tiny houses have been in the news the past several years.  Besides blogs to read about tiny house lifestyles, one can watch TV programs about going tiny.  Tiny houses can be affordable, sustainable, and a way to build community.  Some folks seem to think they are just a fad.  Only time will tell.  Recently, 40,000 people attended a tiny house jamboree in Colorado.

Accessory dwelling units (also known as granny flats or in-law units) have been around a long time. ADUs can be a way for seniors to “age in place” by supplementing their income with rent from the ADU or create housing for other family members.  And, it’s a great way to create “in-fill’ housing in established neighborhoods.

In 1982, the state of California mandated that all municipalities allow single family homeowners to build an ADU on their property. Unfortunately, the law was amended in 1984 so that each city could decide on ADU zoning.  As a consequence, some cities (such as Palo Alto) will not allow ADUs on lots smaller than 9000 sf.  But, now that communities are feeling the pressure to build more affordable housing, some cities have revised zoning to favor ADUs for all homeowners.  Palo Alto Forward has recently started to research ADU zoning and hopes to convince the city of Palo Alto to change zoning to allow more ADUs.  Stay tuned! Learn more about ADUs: accessorydwellings.org

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