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MV works to welcome backyard rental units


Courtesy of Tony Chan
Local developer Tony Chan builds small backyard units on existing lots that meet the 700 square-foot cap in Mountain View.

To relieve the statewide housing shortage, numerous California cities have made it easier for residents to build accessory dwelling units – also known as “granny units” – in their backyards.

Mountain View is one of those cities, according to Mayor Lenny Siegel, who spoke at a free seminar titled “Backyard Rental Units as a Means to Address the Housing Shortage” Jan. 12.

Gov. Jerry Brown signed Senate Bill 1069 into law in 2016, legislation aimed at easing restrictions on ADUs.

Siegel gave three reasons for why he would be happy to see more ADUs in Mountain View:

• They add to the housing supply.

• They provide income opportunities for property owners.

• They could provide housing for home health-care workers or family members.

More than 60 local residents attended the seminar, held at TechCode on Castro Street.

Tony Chan, CEO of ADU Builder Inc., said his company would build a backyard unit at no cost in exchange for a share of rental proceeds.

While he doesn’t endorse Chan’s or any other company’s proposals, Siegel noted that there will be a demand for ADU developers if many residents opt to build the units.

Currently, the maximum size allowed for an ADU in Mountain View is 700 square feet; in Los Altos, it’s 800.

Within the space limits, Chan said ADU Builder, founded last November, is able to construct a 600-square-foot unit with two bedrooms and two bathrooms, or a 700-square-foot unit with two bedrooms and three bathrooms, including a designated guest bathroom.

“You may laugh and say the (700 square feet) is too small for two bedrooms and three bathrooms,” Chan said. “But I was born in Hong Kong, and our family of five lived in a 300-square-foot apartment. This is really doable.”

Chan used to be a real estate agent. He said he helped some relatives and friends who could no longer afford to live in the Bay Area sell their houses, but they would always complain to him about their new location afterwards.

“No place can compare with the Bay Area,” he said. “Now, when someone tells me that they cannot afford to live here anymore, have to sell their house and move out of the Bay Area, I say, ‘No, you don’t have to. Just partner with (ADU Builder) and we will take care of you.’”

The partnership Chan referred to entails a contract that authorizes ADU Builder to apply for a city permit on behalf of the property owner, assemble an ADU in a factory and install it in the owner’s backyard, help the owner find a tenant after the completion of the unit and take a percentage of the rent.

“Our executive teams are licensed realtors with many years of property management experience,” he said. “As the homeowner, all you need to do is sign a contract to get your ADU built, and collect rent once it’s ready.”

Chan added that manufacturing an ADU in a factory means it would pass all kinds of inspections sooner than building it on-site, and would prevent all of the inconveniences the owner would experience during construction.

Another speaker at the seminar, Victoria Fierce, co-executive director of the California Renters Legal Advocacy and Education Fund (CaRLA), said state laws are really ADU-friendly right now, and CaRLA can provide legal counsel for potential ADU owners.

“We do free legal representations for people who are trying to build ADUs, homes or apartment buildings,” she said.

For more information on ADU Builder, visit adu-builder.com.

For more information on CaRLA, visit carlaef.org.

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