A proposal aiming to address Richmond’s affordable housing needs would make it easier for homeowners to convert existing bedrooms into rental units.
The plan to allow “Junior Accessory Dwelling Units (JADU)” in homes is a potential solution being tried or considered in multiple Bay Area cities. The strategy aims to add affordable housing units while providing homeowners a new revenue stream in an increasingly costly Bay Area.
Currently, owners of single family homes in Richmond have the option of converting a detached or attached living space on the property into a Second Dwelling Unit (SDU), according to the city. Such a unit, however, requires a kitchen, bathroom, and additional parking and be subject to sewer and water connection fees along with a number of administrative steps.
In an effort to make it easier and less expensive for owners of single family homes to create legal rentals, Richmond is considering allowing Junior Accessory Dwelling Units. Such units, according to the preliminary proposal, must be between 150 and 500 square feet and include a small kitchen, or kitchenette, and a separate entrance. It would not, however, require its own bathroom (shared is allowed), nor is it subject to sewer and water connection fees or the requirement of additional parking. There are also fewer administrative steps in creating a JADU, city staff says.
To have a JADU, homeowners must reside in either the primary residence or JADU.
Following a presentation of the JADU proposal at a Richmond Planning Commission meeting on Aug. 5, some commissioners expressed concern over the potential for parking issues due to the new renters. But commissioners also said the strategy seemed worth exploring. A city ordinance on JADUs must also pass through the Richmond City Council.
Richmond Mayor Tom Butt learned about JADUs after engaging stakeholders and experts in the field about affordable housing solutions. JADUs are being considered statewide in the form of Assembly Bill 2406. Other Bay Area cities have implemented a similar ordinance or are considering doing so.
Richmond hopes to adopt an amended version of the state’s ordinance that best addresses the city’s specific needs and challenges.
“For many homeowners, the ability to develop a low-cost accessory living unit can provide an opportunity to expand affordable housing options in the city and also provide revenue for certain homeowners, such as seniors and retirees that may be on fixed incomes,” according to city documents.