OAKLAND (KPIX) — Oakland currently has roughly 1,000 residential units under construction but Mayor Libby Schaaf believes that’s not nearly enough.
The mayor thinks increasing the housing supply will help stabilize rent prices so she wants to encourage homeowners and “mom and pop” landlords in her city to get in on the action.
“We have an affordability crisis,” Schaaf told KPIX 5.
For properties less than half a mile away from BART or bus stops, Mayor Schaaf is proposing to remove the current off-street parking space requirement of one space per unit.
“We are liberalizing secondary unit approvals only around great public transit,” Schaaf said.
Schaaf also wants to relax and revise set-back requirements for in-law units in backyards.
She believes easing those restrictions will also make it easier for people to turn their garages and basements into legal units.
“With Oakland doing this quickly, it can help relieve some of that pressure on our housing market that’s making Oakland so expensive,” Schaaf said.
The proposal is getting a lot of support — especially for the conversions of garages and basements.
“I think it’s a great idea. I think we need a lot more housing,” said Judy Berne, a homeowner in Oakland’s Rockridge neighborhood.
“Even if you don’t ease the regulations, people are going to do it illegally — especially if they have family members that need a place to stay,” another homeowner, Marti Christoffer, told KPIX.
Some see a big downside. People living in crowded areas or on streets with few parking spots complain the proposal will makke traffic and parking a nightmare.
“It took me 15 minutes to find parking space in my own neighborhood. On the weekend, especially starting from Thursday evening to Sunday, it’s a madhouse to get parking,” Rockridge resident Philip Brozenick said.
Berkeley passed a similar plan earlier this year and the Oakland city council is scheduled to vote on the proposal Jan. 5.