Accessory Dwelling Units And Housing Affordability In A Resistant City: Overcoming Parochialism And Restrictive Zoning In Palo Alto
The San Francisco Bay Area of California is in the midst of a housing supply and affordability crisis. As the birthplace of Silicon Valley and home to many technology powerhouses and startups attracting many newcomers, the City of Palo Alto, California shares in the greater Bay Area’s struggle for sufficient housing supply and affordability. Palo Alto has experienced incredible growth as a technology powerhouse since the 1960’s, which has placed great pressures on the housing supply and resulted in a remarkable increase in property values attainable to only the very wealthy. There is no one catchall solution to Palo Alto’s housing supply and affordability struggle but one promising tool is development of Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) in the city’s single family residential districts. ADUs allow for unobtrusive, gradual intensification while increasing the housing stock and helping to ease unaffordability. This major research paper traces the roots of Palo Alto’s rise in the technology sector, the housing affordability crisis and the political and policy-based barriers that have so far prevented the facilitation of an effective ADU program. The perspectives of ADUs amongst Palo Altans will be assessed and the outlook for ADUs to be used as housing affordability tool in Palo Alto’s near future will be considered.