“What will it take for housing crisis to hit home”: Larry Wilson on “Granny Flats”

7 Feb

Larry Wilson, a columnist for the Pasadena Star News, has been promoting “granny flats” (second units) as a way to address the housing crisis. To make his case, he cites “Pasadena minister Jill Shook”:

“My favorite fix for the housing crisis is one that is equally divisive among good folks: granny flats. These second units in single-family neighborhoods already exist in all of our cities, practically on every block. Some of them are separate buildings; some are within existing houses. Many or most of them are unpermitted, and there is the rub. While a state law, AB 1866, was passed in 2003 that ostensibly rezoned all single-family housing in California to allow for granny flats, the devil is in the details. Cities and counties still have final say on how zoning works. Citizens worried about parking and density in suburbia have prevented any real progress on second units. Most granny flats are still under the legal radar, inviting dangerous garage flats with no plumbing and dangerous space heaters and bad wiring.

“Pasadena minister Jill Shook tells in her wonderfully detailed book “Making Housing Happen: Faith-Based Affordable Housing Models” of having her activist heart broken when a citizen-based push to legalize granny flats in her city went south because of unreasonable restrictions written into the local ordinance at the last minute. Her group had drafted neighborhood-friendly guidelines that allowed for flexibility for the enormous socioeconomic differences within the city. The Planning Commission approved. At the City Council level, Shook and her allies packed the chambers with 21 local pastors, many of them African American. She acknowledged that this was just a piece of the housing puzzle, if an easy and important one. There seemed to be council support. At the last minute, after some council whispering, the ordinance was passed but radically changed: Only lots of over 15,000 square feet could get a granny flat. Few such lots exist. In the years since, two homeowners have applied. One has been built. What will it take for the realities of our housing crisis to really hit home?”

For the rest of the articles, see:


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