After much debate and public comment, in a 4 to 1 vote the Portola Valley Planning Commission has passed a resolution recommending approval of a revised ordinance for Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) to the Town Council. The Town Council could review the draft ordinance as early as its meeting on February 27th. Here is a summary of the current ADU ordinance vs. the draft ordinance prepared by Town Staff. The biggest change is allowing ADUs in all zones and on all parcel sizes in Town. However, based on the recommendation of the Fire Marshall, parcels less than 1-acre on streets and cul-de-sacs with only one means of ingress and egress that are less than 18 feet in width will not be allowed ADUs.
The Planning Commission, however, could not agree on a maximum size limit for ADUs. Therefore, they recommended a range of 1200 to 1700 square feet. The Commissioners felt that the maximum size was a policy decision more appropriately made by the Town Council. It was noted that a smaller limit may promote more affordable housing units and have less impact on the rural nature of the community, but a larger limit would allow residents who wish to age in place or who desire a multi-generational housing solution to have greater flexibility in designing ADUs that meet their needs. The maximum size limit is not the only factor limiting size in the ordinance. Property owners will not be allowed to exceed their property specific AMFAs and external ADUs may not be larger than 70% of the size of the main residence, in order to make sure that the ADU is subordinate to the main residence. Basements in ADUs will not be counted towards AMFA, but will be counted towards the maximum size limit for the ADU.
It is not too late to have your voice heard on the matter. The draft ordinance (absent a few minor changes made at the meeting last night) and supporting documentation can be found here. If the ordinance does make the agenda, I plan to be at the Town Council meeting on February 27th. If you attend, make sure you say hello!