HOMEward bound

What actually passed last night? The details.

HOMEward bound
A poster at City Hall yesterday.

After eleven-and-a-half hours of public testimony and an hour-and-a-half of debate on the dais, City Council approved Phase 1 of the HOME initiative shortly after 11 pm last night. The approved ordinance included several amendments aimed at making it easier to get two or three units on a lot, as well as one that limits the use of units as short-term rentals.

As anticipated, the two nays came from Alison Alter and Mackenzie Kelly.

It's not clear how many people spoke, but it was at least several hundred. It took three hours just to get through the remote speakers at the beginning, the great majority of whom were against HOME. The in-person speakers who kicked off at around 1 pm were far more evenly split.

Regulating home size

Chito Vela added several amendments aimed at making the construction of two or three units more feasible. As any builder in this town will tell you, zoning is only one of the impediments to putting multiple units on a lot. There are myriad other rules that make those projects infeasible or less profitable than simply building one large house.

One of the key regs in city code is Floor to Area Ratio (FAR), which essentially limits the total amount of housing space relative to the lot size. Typically, the FAR limit for a single-family lot is .4 –– or 40% of the lot. So on a 10,000 sq ft lot, you could build a 4,000 sq ft house –– regardless of the number of stories.