Redwood City Wants Your Feedback on City Code for 'In-Law Units'

City asks for the community's help in identifying ways to update the ordinance on Accessory Dwelling Units (ADU) - commonly called "in-law units."

Redwood City City Hall Photo credit: Stacie Chan
Redwood City City Hall Photo credit: Stacie Chan
The following is a news release from the City of Redwood City: 

Redwood City will be holding two brainstorming sessions on how to improve the ordinance on Accessory Dwelling Units (ADU) on Tuesday, July 1, 2014 at a Planning Commission Study Session and July 9, 2014 at a community workshop. Both sessions begin at 7pm and will take place in the City Hall Council Chambers, 1017 Middlefield Road, Redwood City, 94063. At both sessions, the City team will look to gather broad community input on ways to improve the current ADU rules and how the City can create design flexibility in the current requirements while respecting neighborhood character and parking concerns.


Commonly called a secondary unit, in-law unit, granny flat, or backyard cottage, an ADU is a smaller living unit on a property that has a single-family residence. It is complete with its own kitchen and bathroom facilities. Under the current ordinance, an ADU may be attached or detached from the main house, consist of no more than one bedroom and 640 square feet, and be located at least 20 feet from the rear and six feet from the side property lines. In addition, one uncovered parking space is required for the ADU and two covered parking spaces are required for the main house. All parking spaces may be located as close to 20 feet from the front and six feet from the side property lines. If attached, an ADU may be two stories. If detached, an ADU is limited to one story.


ADUs can have many benefits including: extra living space for family or guests, a home for multi-generational family members whether an aging parent or adult child, housing for college students and caregivers, extra income, increased property values, and efficient use of existing infrastructure. City Planners hope that the public will join forces with the City to develop a creative and innovative ADU ordinance that will help people realize these benefits while providing ADU design parameters that will respect the look and feel of established neighborhoods.


"We understand Accessory Dwelling Units may be a very important investment for people - whether looking to increase income through rental property or needing extra space to take care of an aging parent," states Mayor Jeffrey Gee. "And that is why we hope all interested residents and real estate professionals will participate in this inclusive community process that will ultimately help to shape the final ordinance on ADUs."


Based on input gathered at the two brainstorming sessions, staff will develop a balanced approach to a new ordinance and present that draft revised ordinance at a future public meeting.


For additional background, please visit www.redwoodcity.org/adu.You can also contact Michelle Littlefield, Associate Planner at 650.780.7238 or by email. Finally, you can follow the progress on twitter (@RedwoodCity) and/or keep the ADU conversation going by using hashtag: #RWCcottage.



Reality Check June 26, 2014 at 01:06 PM
Strange, but the current RWC code on ADUs seems to require that the main house be owner-occupied. Why? From watching the ADU video at the city-provided ADU link in the article, it seems other municipalities allow the owner to move into the ADU and rent out the main house. Makes sense in cases where the kids have moved out, the spouse may have left or died and the widow(er) downsizes into his/her ADU and rents out the main house to a family. Or, in other cases, due to financial woes (medical bills, unemployment, etc.), moving into the ADU and renting out the main house might be the only workable option to allow someone to stay on their property in RWC.


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