Granny flats and green-living, the focus at San Jose's Building Division open house

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- San Jose residents came out by the hundreds on Thursday to an open house by the City's Building Division.

Crowds were hoping to learn more about two trends taking over the world of home improvement: granny flats and green-living.

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Staff from Planning, Building, Fire Prevention, Public Works, Environmental Services and Emergency Management were on hand to take questions from residents.

"I should've left a little earlier," San Jose resident, Tina Juaregui told ABC7 News.

She sat against the wall since City Hall Chambers were packed for a presentation on Granny Units.

Juaregui is looking to build extra space which would benefit her family, though she understands small backyard units are now being considered actual homes for others.

"I hear people talking about like, 'Oh, it's so expensive to rent a one bedroom apartment or a two bedroom apartment.' Let alone, it's really hard to find housing," she said. "I think it will help a lot if people can build on land that's already there and make it more dense and more usable."

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Outside City Hall, the Building Division presented a Carbon Free Trailer. The unit showcased energy efficient home installations.

Many who spoke with ABC7 News said they've already made the move to reduce air pollution, save water and, in their own way, build a better Bay Area.

"The only thing that's not electric right now is our heater, and we're looking to change that," Christine Eichin said.

She and her husband purchased an electric vehicle, which inspired them to take on solar energy at home.

"Being your own power plant is so incredibly enriching," she said. "It just feels great not feeling guilty."

The granny flat and green living approaches are both in line with the City's visions.

"Accessory Dwelling Units (ADU) are helping to expand the housing supply- much needed in the Bay Area," Cheryl Wessling with the City's Planning, Building and Code Enforcement Dept. said. "And, the energy saving home improvements are very much needed because we all need to work together to fight climate change."

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You'll recall, Mayor Sam Liccardo recently proposed a program that would offer forgivable loans and waive fees for people willing to build and lease granny flats to low-income renters.

In February 2018, City Council also adopted Climate Smart San José, touted as a people-centered plan for a low-carbon community.

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