Almanac

News - December 1, 2010

Atherton housing rules given preliminary OK

by Renee Batti

The City Council has given the nod to zoning ordinance amendments that will allow Atherton residents to build second dwelling units that encroach slightly into the existing setbacks of their lots, and exceed certain floor-area limits.

The amendments are needed to bring the town's zoning code into compliance with the town's 2007-2014 housing element update, which encourages the development of livable second units by easing certain restrictions, and increasing their allowable size to 1,200 square feet.

The changes were certified by the California Department of Housing and Community Development as being in compliance with state housing law, according to Lisa Costa Sanders, deputy town planner.

The council unanimously approved the ordinance changes at its Nov. 17 meeting. A second reading to finalize approval is set for Dec. 15. The ordinance would take effect Jan. 15 if final approval is given.

The housing element is a town's blueprint for future housing development, and must meet certain state requirements, including the provision of dwellings for low- to moderate-income people.

Atherton has been working on its housing element update for about two years — an effort that has involved members of the public, the Planning Commission and the City Council, Ms. Lisa Costa Sanders noted in a press release.

In addition to changes in the second-unit restrictions, the zoning ordinance changes allow multiple-family units for very low- and low-income people on private school sites, which could include dormitories and teacher housing on those campuses.

The amendments also allow residential care facilities, serving a maximum of six people, in residential zoning districts.

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