Sep 24, 2010

HUD: Amnesty for Accessory Dwelling Units

What can government do to increase the number of affordable housing units?

Marin County in California offered Owners an Amnesty program. According to the HUDuser website, "The program is expected to save existing second units, which would otherwise be lost through code enforcement actions" 

In Honolulu, this is becoming a critical issue, as many owners are building Recreation Rooms and converting them to separate rental units (click table - RIGHT - to enlarge).

The Marin County website describes a relaxed building code so that illegal units only had to meet basic life-safety requirements but could otherwise remain as-is. The amnestry program was only offered for a 1-year period.

This is an interesting case of how one City decided to balance the need for affordable housing against illegal construction activity.

From the Marin County's website FAQ:

There are many unpermitted second units in Marin County which may or may not meet basic health and safety guidelines. This Amnesty Program is intended to encourage healthy and safe conditions in existing units.
  • This is an opportunity to legalize unpermitted second units for half the permitting cost.
  • Some permit standards have been adjusted to accommodate existing buildings while focusing on tenant health and safety.
  • A legal second unit can increase your property value.
  • Free technical assistance will be available on how to legalize an unpermitted second unit.
  • At the close of the Amnesty period, properties found in violation of County Code will be required to comply with more stringent Second Unit development standards, and increased fees will be assessed.