Berkeley may soon allow sales of backyard cottages, accessory dwelling units

ByLena Howland KGO logo
Saturday, May 18, 2024
Berkeley may soon allow sales of backyard cottages, dwelling units
Berkeley City Council unanimously approved the first step of opting into a new state law, Assembly Bill 1033, which allows people to buy an ADU.

BERKELEY, Calif. (KGO) -- Buying a home may soon be in closer reach for folks in Berkeley, as long as you're ok with living in someone else's backyard.

"I think that people just need a place where they can start, right? That's the whole point of a starter home and this is a great way to be able to do that," said Shawneequa Badger, team lead of the Badger Real Estate Group.

This week, Berkeley's City Council unanimously approved the first step of opting into a new state law -- Assembly Bill 1033 -- which gives people the ability to buy an ADU, or accessory dwelling unit, known as a backyard cottage.

"Sometimes they're as small as 500 square feet. They can be as big as 1,000 square feet in the city of Berkeley but any size of a backyard cottage is typically smaller than single-family home here, so we expect the sale price to be lower as well," said Berkeley City Councilmember Rashi Kesarwani.

According to Zillow, the average price of a home in Berkeley now sits around $1.5 million.

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That's why Kesarwani spearheaded bringing this proposal to the city council.

"A lot of times, it's existing homeowners who had an opportunity to buy a home when they weren't as expensive, so we want to give that opportunity to the next generation," she said.

Badger says it opens the door for more essential workers who can't afford to live where they work.

"Teachers should be able to buy where they teach. People who are working in the cities, or the counties should be able to buy homes where they work and they shouldn't have to have just the option of driving one or two hours a day just to get to work," Badger said.

"For a working class person, or a person who is even a government employee or support worker, homeownership is completely out of reach," said Aboubacar Ndiaye, executive director of the Northern California Land Trust.

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The Northern California Land Trust, a non-profit working to provide and support affordable housing in the Berkeley area, says its standing by to help potential buyers with this process as soon as it gets a green light.

"Having a policy that allows you to potentially purchase a small home and allows you to grow into that home with multiple families, you are really seeing a way for folks to be able to have that opportunity at the American dream," Ndiaye said.

Kesarwani says this will head to the city's planning department next, she hopes it will come back to city council for final approval within a year.

"The more cities that do this, the better the Bay Area's going to be off," Kesarwani said.

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