Oakland Eases Restrictions on Secondary Housing Units

Following the recent example of cities like Vancouver, Austin, and Berkeley, Oakland, CA recently made it much easier for residents to create secondary units, also known as accessory dwelling units.

1 minute read

January 9, 2016, 9:00 AM PST

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell


According to Darwin BondGraham, "the Oakland City Council voted to ease restrictions on the construction of secondary housing units, or backyard cottages," earlier this week.

"The new rules promote more rental housing by easing parking requirements, allowing homeowners to transform existing backyard buildings like sheds and garages into living spaces, and relaxing height and setback requirements," according to BondGraham's summary of the new regulations.

The article provides more background on the case for secondary housing units (also known as accessory dwelling units (ADUs), granny flats, or mother-in law units). Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf is cited in the article as a supporter of the new regulations, but opposition, common in some neighborhoods and cities considering similar restrictions, is not mentioned.

The nearby city of Berkeley approved similar new regulations in March 2015, with the added layer of prohibiting the use of ADUs for short-term rentals. Under Oakland's new regulations, owners of such units could rent the property through services like Airbnb. 

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