March 21, 2018
Lilypad Homes has had the great pleasure of serving Marin, Sonoma, and Napa Counties, as well as other communities throughout California. In our three years we have helped to create a “friendly” permitting environment for the development of accessory dwelling units (ADUs) and junior accessory dwelling units (JADUs). We have reduced fees and fostered financing options that allow for construction of units based on future value and income. Working with local governments and nonprofits, we helped institute affordable housing programs that were the first of their kind. And we have provided hundreds of educational presentations to help homeowners recognize the opportunity to build these units. Our work has been inspired by a desire to create safe, secure, and affordable housing for individuals and families across all income levels.
I am writing today to let you know that Lilypad will be closing its doors at the end of March due to lack of funding. While it is a loss, we feel we have accomplished our goals and now have the permitting environment and financing options in place for many people to create additional units. It is hard to have to say goodbye, but we look forward to participating in new ways in the building environment that we helped to create! We cannot thank everyone enough for all the support and encouragement you have given us over the years! We believe the work we started to simplify, streamline, and encourage the development of these units will continue, as jurisdictions look to ADUs to help fulfill their housing goals and champion a dual approach. By offering both large-scale multi-family and J/ADU infill they can develop a full, economically diverse array of housing.
The good news is that San Mateo County has already shown us the way to continue the growth of this housing movement. All 21 jurisdictions in that county are collaborating on and investing in this online ADU information center. Much of the content is useful to anyone considering development, and the website can be used as a template for other communities. It includes:
- Inspirational videos of families who have built ADUs in the county,
- An idea book with personal stories photos, floorplans and budgets for ADUs that were actually built,
- A consumer-friendly web calculator (no Excel spreadsheets to navigate) to estimate construction costs based on size, type and level of finish, market vs. affordable rents and added home value (Key!),
- A step-by-step guide to the process, including resources for new landlords,
- An interactive workbook that will include questions to ask your planning department, how to know if you are financially ready to build, how to draw a site plan to scale, etc.,
- 21 fact sheets summarizing the rules of each of the cities and the county with contact information for a single person at each planning department who is an expert in ADU applications and also easy to talk with.
They are also in the process of launching a marketing campaign to promote development!
Informing homeowners about this opportunity, incentivizing production of these units, and streamlining the process is critical to success, and I am hopeful that other counties will take up the charge by supporting initiatives to move in the same direction as San Mateo. We live in a magical place. By providing the freedom to live comfortably in our homes, and opening doors to homeownership and rental housing for our diverse workforce, we will make the North Bay an economically stronger and more resilient community that is better prepared to sustain itself through good and bad times in a challenging century.
We will miss you! Our website will remain up for another year to provide some guidance and resources in our absence, but since it will not be maintained the information will become increasingly outdated. My contact information, however, will remain the same over that period, and I hope to have the pleasure of hearing how it is going and seeing images of the wonderful homes you create! We wish you all the best in your housing adventures – be well and build!