By Jack Tonkin, former LFP City Councilmember

Our city is unique to other cities. One example lies in our pursuit to retain our canopy, especially those mature fir trees that assist in reducing carbon dioxide into the atmosphere by storing carbon and releasing oxygen. Trees are a natural solution in the world's efforts to address climate warming.

Other factors that contribute to our uniqueness are our creeks, waterfront, parks, hills, winding streets that follow the terrain, the gatherings at Commons, and many more benefits are the reasons so many families never leave the Park. We could lose those advantages if we become insensitive to how we structure to grow in population. Your City Council is currently in discussions on how to structure growth in place plan referred to as ADU.

The popular concerns and efforts to address Affordable Housing are limited due to a number of issues, the key element is the price of existing or new homes being far beyond a purchase or rental for those seeking affordable housing. Cities across the county have discovered the multiple benefits derived from an aggressive ADU plan; including affordability for renters.

Affordability is not an objective with developers

  1. The homeowner's land is already owned therefore the only costs used to factor in rent rates are construction, permit process, and lending fees (if applicable). A developer would have to acquire the primary home including land pay for ADU construction, utility hookup, and generate profit returns typical for commercial investment.

Without the requirement for Owner Occupied permits, the gates would open to Investment Groups and Developers whose sole objectives are profits. Rental rates would thus remain unaffordable for many buyers, especially young families, teachers, firemen, and service workers.

  1. The majority of cities initiating ADU programs are offering homeowner incentives for constructing an ADU rental. These incentives vary from tax relief, cash incentives, free preapproved architectural plan selections, reduced or removal of permits, and elements causing delays common to new construction. These homeowner incentives result in lower total costs and are reflected in lower rental rates as a result.
  1. Our city seniors have expressed concerns over their “stay in place” options which the ADU can resolve. For those seniors struggling to pay increasing costs and taxes, they can use the rental funds to help offset cost increase hardships and if the senior owners decide later to “downside” and move into the ADU for their own purposes, the rent income generated from their primary home can more than resolve their financial position.
  1. The city tax revenue from the value increase of an ADU addition will, over time, more than offset the initial costs for promotional incentives offered, such as free pre-approved plans and reduced permits.

With Owner Occupied ADU development citizens will retain the neighborhood character of LFP. With developer access to buy up properties and convert both home and ADU to rentals, we are in peril of losing the whole basis of why so many love this community.

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