City Proposes Zoning That Permits Secondary Units and Cuts Parking Regs Near BART

How Secondary Unit and Off- Street Parking Revisions Could Impact Rockridge
Thursday, December 3, 2015

>>UPDATED: Meeting materials handout1, handout2, map1, map2
Everyone has heard about the Bay Area's severe housing shortage and escalating construction costs. One strategy being implemented by Bay Area cities to increase housing stock is easing regulations for adding secondary housing units.

A secondary unit is a structure that is accessory to the primary dwelling on a property, and that can be used as housing for a relative, or as a rental. A secondary unit, if not already present on a residential lot, can often be constructed relatively cheaply.

Reforming Oak land's regulations has been a priority for Mayor Libby Schaaf's office. Oakland's proposed secondary dwelling unit changes go to the full City Council meeting on January 5 starting at 5:30 p.m. at City Hall.

The goal of the proposed amendments is to encourage construction of secondary units throughout the city, by reducing regulatory barriers in the City's current planning code, particularly restrictions pertaining to setbacks (required distance of structures from property lines) and available parking.

No Secondary Unit Parking Spaces Proposed in Much of Rockridge

The City decided the single most important change to encourage new secondary units is relaxing parking restrictions. Currently, one off-street parking space must be provided for each secondary unit. Under the proposed regulations, NO additional off-street parking spaces would be required for new detached secondary housing units within one-half (1/2) mile of a BART station, Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) station, (R) bus line, or "Major Transit Stop." A quick perusal of the map at left shows almost all of Rockridge lies within this distance.

This provision is intended to facilitate the development of more housing options for residents seeking to utilize public transit to meet their daily needs.

In locations where an off-street space would be required, tandem parking would be allowed everywhere.

As of now, detached secondary units within Rockridge with a separate address are eligible for permits where residential permit parking (RPP) is in effect. The proposed regulations relaxing parking requirements would still allow permits to be issued for newly approved secondary units.

Smaller Secondary Units Closer to Lot Edges Proposed, Fewer Rules for Conversions

Under the proposed regulations:
■ Property line setbacks for new detached units would be reduced to four feet, as long as they were within 35 feet of the rear property line.
■ Walls could be no more than 10 feet high, and the maximum roof height could be no more than 14 feet.
■ Maximum size would be 750 sq.ft., or 75 percent of the size of the main house, whichever was less. (For example, for an 800 sq.ft. house, the limit on the secondary unit would be 600 sq.ft.)

Conversion of an existing auxiliary structure, such as a garage or studio, would be allowed regardless of any existing nonconformity of side or rear setbacks, or height – as long as any existing nonconformity is not increased. The floor area could not exceed the maximum allowed and the minimum parking, which in much of Rockridge is no spaces, is met on the site.

A public hearing will be held by the City Council on January 5, with a final hearing expected later in January. Please consider voicing your opinion on the proposed changes to Councilmember Dan Kalb – – and by showing up at the meetings. Check the website for updates and more information.

The proposed regulations are contained in the City Council agenda report, with a staff report, Attachments A, B, C, D. The UC Center for Community Innovation study on which the regulations are based, explicitly exclude "the Rockridge and Piedmont Avenue neighborhoods, which are distinct in terms of demographics, zoning regulation, and parcel conf guration from the rest of North Oakland" .

Zoning Update #2 Underway: Off-Street Parking Regulations Could Change Rockridge

Oakland has changed a lot since 1965, but its parking regulations have not kept pace. Global warming, transit-oriented development, and housing inequities were not considered when the regulations were last formulated.

As part of the Citywide Zoning Update effort, the City is updating its off-street parking requirements for private and public property. Among the goals are supporting the vitality of commercial districts, achieving consistency with sustainability goals and encouraging efficient use of land.

The proposed changes could affect new and existing businesses and residences in Rockridge. On major commercial corridors such as College or Telegraph Avenues, and in high density residential areas, specific parking strategies would reduce the parking requirements for new residential housing construction to 50 percent of the normally required amount.

Incorporating Parking Demand Management Strategies

Right now, each new residential unit requires one off-street parking space. Current regulations allow the amount of parking required to be reduced up to 50 percent with a conditional use permit, but the guidelines for achieving that number are vague. The Nautilus Project on 51st Street and Telegraph Avenue is seeking a 50 percent parking reduction under this procedure.

Based on research and other city standards, the City proposes to remove the Permit requirement and establish specific parking reduction standards to encourage incorporation of parking demand management strategies in new projects. Research shows that the proposed strategies would achieve the goal of reducing demand and greenhouse gas emissions.

A Possible Scenario for Future Development

As an example of future developments, parking requirements for a new 20-unit development on College Avenue could be reduced from the required 20 spaces to 10 spaces if the developers offered:
■ Carsharing (10 percent)
■ Unbundled parking (15 percent)
■ Located on College Avenue (20 percent).

The College Avenue developer could choose to build affordable housing for the 50 percent reduction rather than adding carsharing or unbundled parking.

An example of a car-sharing company is Zipcar. "Unbundled parking" is parking that is sold or rented separately from a unit. On College Avenue, if the nearest cross street has already opted for residential permit parking, each apartment currently qualifies for one permit parking sticker. October's draft regulations leave those rules in place.

Consequently, residents of new units could opt out of purchasing/renting off-street parking for their vehicles and instead purchase a residential permit sticker at a much lower cost.Going to Planning Commission Committee in January

The City held two public meetings in October to gather public comments on the draft proposals (more information at: bit. ly/OffStreet). A revised proposal could be considered by the Zoning Update Committee during January. Other proposals include:

■ Reducing the number of required off-street spaces for new residential units in Rockridge's residential zones close to College Avenue, from 1.5 spaces per unit to 1;
■ Reducing required parking to .25 spaces/unit for senior housing
■ Halving the number of parking spaces required for large restaurants.
■ Making it easier for new residences and commercial businesses to use remote off-site parking to satisfy their off-street parking requirement.

There are additional proposals not listed.

Learn more at the Wednesday, December 9 RCPC Special Meeting. Be sure to make your voice heard: email Councilmember Dan Kalb (dkalb@ and City planner Neil Gray (