Marin initiative aims to relieve housing crunch with junior units
Author: Adrian Rodriguez
Publication: Marin Independent Journal
With an eye toward adding to the affordable housing stock, a Marin initiative is encouraging homeowners to convert unused bedrooms into studio apartments called junior accessory dwelling units.
“Housing is a major issue,” said Linda Jackson, director of the Aging Action Initiative. “Renters need an affordable place to live, and more units will help with that.”
To help interested residents get started, Jackson is working with the Marin County Commission on Aging to host expos where attendees can get free advice from architects, city planners, builders and other professionals.
The first event is from 9 to 11 a.m. Thursday at Whistlestop in San Rafael. A second will be from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. March 30 at Novato City Hall.
State laws that went into effect in 2017 have streamlined the process to create accessory dwelling units and junior accessory dwelling units, the latter is often referred to as JADU (pronounced jay-doo) for short.
Jackson said it’s an opportune time for residents to consider the advantages of creating these units.
“One benefit is for older people who are homeowners and can earn income from rent,” Jackson said. “Or maybe they want to downsize and move into the JADU and rent out their home.”
Homeowners could expect to earn about $1,200 to $1,600 per month in rent from a JADU at market rate, Jackson said.
An accessory dwelling unit is loosely defined as a detached or attached secondary dwelling unit with complete independent living facilities for one or more people. That includes permanent provisions for sleeping, cooking and sanitation.
State law defines a junior accessory dwelling unit as a unit that is no more than 500 square feet in size and contained entirely within an existing single-family structure. A JADU requires converting an existing bedroom to add an outside entrance, a mini-kitchen, a lockable door between the new unit and the main living area to ensure privacy and its own restroom or access to a shared restroom.
Michael Hagerty, a member of the Marin County Commission on Aging, said the expo will be an open-house style, with stations set up for each of the three stages of creating a JADU: planning, building and renting.
“We will have experts on hand who can talk about the different laws in place in communities across the county,” Hagerty said.
City planners across the county are on board, saying that these second units are a piece to the puzzle in relieving the housing crunch.
Paul Jensen, the community development director in San Rafael, said, “we encourage both types of units as it is the ‘low-hanging fruit’ for developing new housing.”
However, he said there haven’t been as many applications for JADUs as there are for accessory dwelling units. There was one application for a JADU in 2016 and in 2017 and two in 2018.
Applications for accessory dwelling units, however, have more than tripled since 2016 when there were only eight applications and six approvals. After the new laws went into effect in 2017, there were 33 applications and 30 approvals, and 38 applications and 31 approvals in 2018.
“I may be speculating, but it is possible that many are finding that they get a bigger bang for the buck by pursuing an ADU because of the relaxing of the laws,” Jensen said.
Fairfax resident Kiki La Porta successfully created a JADU at her home for approximately $20,000. She and her husband David Haskell did most of the heavy lifting to get the job done.
“These units are affordable by size, they’re affordable by design,” she said. “It creates the opportunity for people to live in our community.”
Hagerty said that success stories like La Porta’s will be encouraging for residents who are interested in building a second unit in their home.
“This is the perfect solution to making more affordable housing available,” Hagerty said.
More information is available at sanrafaeljadu.eventbrite.com.
To read original article posting, click here: https://www.marinij.com/2019/02/05/marin-initiative-aims-to-relieve-housing-crunch-with-junior-units/