98.5% Fee Reduction in Novato Makes Creation of Affordable Housing Truly Affordable

money pile

June 4, 2015

Novato homeowners who want to create legal, private apartments from spare bedrooms can now move ahead. The ordinance permitting these junior accessory dwelling units (JADUs) went into effect in January of this year. In May, the last potential hurdle was removed when the Novato Sanitary District Board unanimously approved a sewer service fee reduction from $8,990 to $40 for JADUs. That followed the April elimination of the North Marin Water District’s $10,000 water connection fee. The City of Novato and the Novato Fire Protection District had previously reduced or eliminated their fees, and the end result is a very impressive 98.5% overall reduction in fees for JADUs, as compared to traditional accessory dwelling units.

†⇒ Fees for a traditional accessory dwelling unit of < 500 square feet:     $27,507*

⇒ Fees for a junior accessory dwelling unit of < 500 square feet:            $     414*

Securing the fee reductions was a community effort, orchestrated by the Lilypad Flexible Housing Initiative. Advocates from affordable housing, sustainability, and senior organizations, as well as Novato homeowners, building trade representatives and others, came together to participate in agency meetings where they spoke eloquently about the need for affordable housing in Marin and made that need real and engaging with their own stories. This opportunity for Novato homeowners would never have happened without Bob Brown, Novato’s Community Development Director, who translated the junior unit concept into new zoning code and helped to advocate for lower fees and fewer restrictions.

The JADU concept is spreading through Marin. At this point, homeowners in Tiburon can also create JADUs, although fees and regulations differ somewhat from those in Novato. And homeowners in most unincorporated areas of Marin County can create similar rental rooms by installing minimal kitchen facilities, which are called “snack bars” in the County code. See the details for each jurisdiction here.

Lilypad is seeking renters who want to live in a JADU, We can provide tools to help you find a homeowner interested in the possibility of turning a spare bedroom into a lovely, little living space for you to rent. Please contact us. We look forward to hearing from you!

* Fees listed do not include the building permit fees, which apply to both traditional and junior accessory dwelling units, and are based on the expected project cost.