San Jose Mayor Unveils Granny Unit Affordable Housing Plan

Mayor Sam Liccardo's proposal, called Yes In My Backyard, would allow homeowners to build and rent out small homes on their property

San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo on Wednesday unveiled a plan to encourage homeowners to build small affordable homes on their property that could be used as affordable housing.

The so-called granny units would be about 500-600 square feet, and city officials say they hope to make it more affordable for property owners to build them.

At the lot of Advantage Homes, the mayor, flanked by the Housing Trust of Silicon Valley, offered to waive city impact fees and provide forgivable loans up to $20,000 for those who build units and rent at affordable rates.

Liccardo says normally it costs about $650,000 to build a rental unit.

"We need to be able to bend the cost curve," he said. "We need to disrupt the market to find a more innovative say of getting housing built."

Homeowner Monica Nanez is looking over a granny unit she wants to put in her backyard. The prefab or modular homes are known as accessory dwelling units, or ADUs. Nanez says she liked the idea of building and renting a unit, but she balked at the cost.

"I found out there was permitting fees that could be up to $20,000 without even starting the project," Nanez said. "For me, that was the initial barrier."

Liccardo listened and invited Nanez to hear his proposal called Yes In My Backyard to provide homeowner incentives to build the rental granny units, as well convert garages.

"I would love to provide housing for maybe some just starting their career in teaching or a similar type of career," Nanez said. "People who are so important to our community."

The City Council is expected to address the issue early next month if it gets by a committee evaluation next week.

Nanez says if all goes well, she’d like to have her unit up in her backyard before the end of the year.

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