Los Altos City Council Approves Increase in Below Market Rate Units

On September 11, 2018, the Los Altos City Council voted to increase the below-market-rate requirement for both new ownership and rental developments from 10% to 15%. Now rental developers are required to build 15% of the units as very low-income (affordable to those with area median incomes of less than 50% area median income (AMI)), or 20% as lower-income (less than 80% AMI). Ownership developments must provide 15% of the units as affordable, with the majority targeted to those at moderate-income levels (80-120% AMI) and the remaining units at very low or lower-income levels. The requirements apply to all new projects with 5 or more units. Alternatives to developers building the units, including paying in-lieu fees, are possible at the discretion of the Council. Council indicated that they would generally prefer units, but in projects with fewer than 10 units, in-lieu fees might be reasonable.

Los Altos City Council approves new ordinances on Accessory Dwelling Units

In an important step to increase the supply of affordable housing in Los Altos, on July 10, 2018, the Los Altos City Council approved two amended ordinances. One pertains to the size of accessory structures in residential districts, and another regulates accessory dwelling units (ADUs), also known as in-law units, granny units or secondary units.

Changes to the ordinances include:

  • A size increase for an ADU from 800 square feet to 1,200 square feet. Basements
    are included in square footage for detached ADUs, but not for attached ADUs.
  • No minimum lot size for construction of an ADU (the lot previously had to be
    15,000 square feet for a detached ADU, and 13,000 for an attached ADU).
  • No requirement that the owner resides on the property (the owner previously had to
    live on the site).
  • A requirement of one parking space per ADU, or none if there is public transit
    within half a mile, a car-share station on the block or the home is deemed historical or
    architecturally significant. The original ordinance mandated two parking spaces
    including one covered.
  • No maximum number of occupants (prior ordinance had a maximum of 2).
  • Minimum of 30-day rental required.
  • No affordability requirements, as in prior ordinance.
  • Accessory structures limited to 800 square feet. An accessory structure might be a
    pool house, shed or studio that does not have all of the amenities needed for habitation, such as a kitchen, bathroom, and bedroom.
  • The amended ADU ordinance can be found at tinyurl.com/y9pksftl

2015-2023 Housing Element Progress for Los Altos

Video: Los Altos, a Place to Call Home?

AMI 2019 values for Santa Clara County
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