City Council to consider new incentive for affordable ADUs and objective design standards for multifamily buildings
Posted on 09/01/2023

City Council to consider new incentive for affordable ADUs and objective design standards for multifamily buildings

Published September 1, 2023

The Piedmont City Council will consider two proposals aimed at making it easier to create new housing in Piedmont at their meeting on Tuesday, September 5th – pre-approved design plans for affordable ADUs and objective design standards for multifamily and mixed-use buildings.

Both proposals were discussed by the Planning Commission at their June, July, and August 2023 meetings. The Commission unanimously voted to recommend both proposals to the City Council on August 14th

Both proposals aim to remove barriers to housing production

The Multifamily Objective Design Standards (MODS) and new affordable Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) incentive are part of the City’s larger effort to remove barriers to housing production and identify creative ways to make housing in Piedmont more accessible to people of all income levels.

Both proposals are the result of several years of public engagement, including workshops, in-person events, visual preference surveys, and polls. Detailed background and analysis on the proposals is available in the City Council Agenda Report.

New incentive for affordable ADUs: Pre-approved design plans

To encourage the creation of affordable ADUs, the City has developed a series of permit-ready designs appropriate to Piedmont’s built and natural environment. These designs could be submitted as-is, along with existing and proposed site plans and other materials, to receive a Planning permit, giving applicants a head start on the permitting and development process. Detailed construction and engineering plans unique to the site’s slope and soil conditions would still need to be developed for each ADU before a building permit is issued.

ADUs that use the City’s pre-approved designs would be rent-restricted for 10 years. During this period, if the ADU is rented out, the rent must be affordable to tenants who meet “very low income” affordability thresholds for the Alameda County area set by the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Multifamily Objective Design Standards

Under this proposal, eligible multi-family and mixed-use commercial/residential development applications that conform to a set of measurable, objective standards for architectural elements, landscape, parking, and site design would be approved directly by staff without a public hearing, as provided by State laws.

The standards developed by the City are intended to help maintain privacy and mitigate other possible impacts to neighbors and surrounding single-family properties. They provide specific guidelines for design elements like:


  • Setbacks, building placements, and façade design
  • Size, placement, and materials for windows and outdoor spaces like balconies and decks
  • Location and visibility of parking areas

The standards would apply only to developments in existing multifamily and mixed-use zones and do not change any existing regulations about density, height, minimum setbacks, or parking. They are intended to streamline the review process for multi-family and mixed-use housing developments that are already allowed by Piedmont’s zoning code.

Share feedback in person, on Zoom, or by email

Community members can submit comments on the proposals by email to [email protected] or speak on the item at City Council in person or via Zoom:

Tuesday, September 5, 2023 6:00pm
Piedmont City Hall, 120 Vista Avenue

The meeting will be broadcast live on KCOM-TV, available to Piedmont residents on Comcast Channel 27, AT&T Uverse Channel 99, or streaming online.

For questions, email [email protected].