ADU follow up



We had a full house (60+ people, standing room only) to hear Palo Alto Planning Director Hillary Gitelman, Russ Reich (from the City's Development Center), architects, mortgage specialists and others talk about the process of designing, approving, financing and building Granny Units.  

We recorded the event here (Facebook live video): 

Additionally, we presented a breakdown of the permitting and impact fees to be expected from Palo Alto projects, based on public records searches and the Palo Alto municipal code.  That is posted here.  

Guest speakers included:

  • Hillary Gitelman: Palo Alto Planning Director
  • Russ Reich: Senior Planner, Palo Alto Development Center
  • Lee Lippert: Palo Alto based architect
  • Catherine Garber: Palo Alto based architect
  • Nikki James: Palo Alto based construction financing expert

Some take-aways:

  • The process in Palo Alto has gotten significantly easier for ADUs (changes to parking requirements, set-backs, utilities, etc).  We used to average 4 ADU permits/year.  This year, we already have 13
  • There is a lot of flexibility in what comprises an ADU: it can be rooms in an existing living structure (a "JADU"), or a fully detached structure.  
  • One of the major areas of policy nuance is with regard to "existing structure conversions": structures that existed at the time of the ordinance (Jan 1, 2017) can be converted to ADU use. Otherwise, additions will be considered new construction
  • Council and the PTC are expected to continue to discuss and refine the ADU ordinance (including questions around construction of basements for ADUs, pre-approved plans a la Santa Cruz, etc).  


  • People interested in designing and building an ADU are encouraged to contact Russ Reich ([email protected]) at the city development office and get input on plans from an early stage 
  • ADU ordinance forms can be downloaded here 


  • Amy Sumg
    commented 2017-10-27 17:51:41 -0700
    Any interest on follow ups on connecting ADU rentals and workforce housing?


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