California

Logo: Casita Coalition

Discover organizations from across Canada, and the rest of the world, who are contributing towards the gentle density movement and the delivery of homes that people want, need & deserve.

Name: Casita Coalition

About: Casita Coalition stands out as the sole statewide (USA), multi-sector organization uniting key stakeholders to eliminate policy barriers, leaving a significant imprint with neighborhood-scale homes.

Through their Board, Advisory Committee, and Working Groups, they harness the diverse expertise and experience of their members to help simplify the construction of middle homes in all California neighborhoods and disseminate solutions among an expanding community of professionals.

Spanning diverse disciplines and geographic regions, they foster collective learning and swift implementation to fortify the middle housing ecosystem.

For more information: Head to their dedicated website.

Logo: Assoc. of Bay Area Governments

Discover organizations from across Canada, and the rest of the world, who are contributing towards the gentle density movement and the delivery of homes that people want, need & deserve.

Name: Association of Bay Area Governments

About: The Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) defines itself as “part regional planning agency and part local government service provider.” It has a mission to strengthen cooperation and collaboration across local governments in California to build healthier, stronger communities and strives to accomplish their goals by providing planning services and cost-effective ABAG member services to local governments struggling with rising costs and diminishing incomes.

The public is invited to all ABAG meetings and has access to the same tools and research, with a focus on a broad range of policy areas, including the delivery of gentle density & missing middle housing.

For more information: Head to their website.

Logo for Terner Center

Discover organizations from across Canada, and the rest of the world, who are contributing towards the gentle density movement and the delivery of homes that people want, need & deserve.

Name: The Terner Center for Housing Innovation

About: The mission of the Terner Center for Housing Innovation at the University of California at Berkeley is to formulate bold strategies to house families from all walks of life in vibrant, sustainable, and affordable homes and communities.

Established in 2015, the organisation has quickly become a leading voice in identifying, developing, and advancing innovative public and private sector solutions to the nation’s most intractable housing challenges.

Their work provides timely analysis and data-driven research to support policy and innovation for policymakers, practitioners, and advocates in addressing with urgency the multiple, layered crises of housing affordability, entrenched inequities, and climate change. The Terner Center aims to provide actionable, pragmatic paths that are based in evidence and can bring together a coalition to make change, including in the field of gentle density & missing middle housing.

For more information: Head to their website.

On this useful resource page from the City of San Jose, users can explore a comprehensive resource library to support research and insights into the city’s promotion of ADUs as a means of addressing housing challenges.

Key insights:

  • ADUs are an affordable type of home to construct in California because they do not require paying for land, major new infrastructure, structured parking, or elevators.
  • ADUs can provide a source of income for homeowners.
  • ADUs are built with cost-effective wood frame construction, which is significantly less costly than homes in new multifamily infill buildings.
  • ADUs allow extended families to be near one another while maintaining privacy.
  • ADUs can provide as much living space as many newly-built apartments and condominiums, and they’re suited well for couples, small families, friends, young people, and seniors.
  • ADUs give homeowners the flexibility to share independent living areas with family members and others, allowing seniors to age in place as they require more care.

The Association of Bay Area Governments, based out of San Francisco, California, has developed a series of useful resources to support local planners in their communication efforts in advocating for the adoption and delivery of Gentle Density Housing. These include videos, presentations, and simple “fast fact” style messaging guidelines.

Key resources include:

Please note: While the resources listed here are free to download, some of the resources contained within the website’s library are behind member/pay walls.

Explore the comprehensive “Missing Middle Housing Study” in Sacramento, a data-driven citywide effort addressing housing choices, walkable living, and attainable housing needs at all income levels.

Key insights:

The report puts suggested steps need to be taken to help deliver more attainable housing.

  • A critical step is to increase the delivery of housing at all income levels, but in a manner that is sustainable and feasible, and does not adversely impact existing infrastructure capacities (of roads, utilities, etc.) and the quality of life of existing residents.
  • A critical strategy is to streamline and encourage the production of smaller, simpler, less complicated and less expensive housing projects in areas that have existing infrastructure and amenities. Missing Middle Housing can fulfill this requirement, and provide an efficient way to meet this pent up demand.

This vital report informs Sacramento’s long-term planning and housing policies, prioritizing affordability, equity, and access while addressing displacement risks and proposing measures to preserve the unique character of established neighborhoods.

Further to the report, you can stay up to date with all of Sacramento’s Missing Middle Housing developments by checking out their dedicated website.

California’s housing supply shortage is among the worst in the USA. One strategy that has been consistently promoted by housing advocates to address this challenges is to increase the supply of accessory dwelling units (ADUs).

Key insights:

California grapples with one of the most acute housing shortages in the USA. Advocates propose a solution: boosting the supply of accessory dwelling units (ADUs). These standalone residences, either attached or detached from the main dwelling, reside on the same lot. Despite state law granting ADU permission since 1982, cities constrained their development, citing concerns about parking, neighborhood dynamics, and property values.

This Small Housing Case Study explores the work undertaken by the Casita Coalition – a state-wide, multi-sector organization committed to increasing the supply of small-scale, affordable housing options – in their advocacy for a bill to eliminate barriers to ADU development, enabling cities to decide on ADU sales. Passed in fall 2023, the law takes effect in 2024, allowing California cities and counties to “opt in” for ADU sales.

    Key insights:

    Like many other cities in California, Encinitas has been challenged to meet the demand for diverse and affordable housing. Very little undeveloped land remains in the city, so it is difficult for new construction to keep pace with increasing housing needs. Housing prices are high, as are rents. Infill housing, including accessory dwelling units (ADUs), is a crucial element in the City’s plan to boost supply and provide a diverse range of housing types.

    This Small Housing Case study explores how the state and city have responded to the housing crisis by passing new laws and ordinances to encourage the construction of ADUs.

    This report from the Terner Center for Housing Innovation, part of UC Berkeley, highlights barriers faced by developers working in states that have enabled multiple units to be built on traditionally single-family zoned lots.

    Key insights:

    The report details that Middle Housing delivers many benefits to communities:

    • Increases racial equity in housing and neighbourhood access
    • Providesentry-level homeownership opportunities
    • Creates lower greenhouse gas emissions per household).

    The following developer challenges are highlighted:

    • Design requirements need to be flexible/supportive of missing middle housing;
    • Larger projects of 8-12 units need to be permitted to make projects financially viable; that complicated utility and subdivision rules deter small-scale development;
    • Approval timelines need to be more efficient; and that there is currently a lack of traditional financing tools to create a funding package for projects.

    Key recommendations:

    • Introducing development code changes beyond zoning reforms, including updating design requirements and assessing current impact fees and utility requirements
    • Allocate dedicated resources to streamline permitting and approval processes
    • Considering more ambitious land use changes, such as increasing the maximum units that can be developed per lot, to help foster increased missing middle housing development.
    Opticos Design logo - abstract view of a town zoning map, colour is yellow with black text overlay

    On this resourceful webpage, Opticos provides an overview of the various housing typologies that fall under Missing Middle Housing, including duplexes, fourplexes, cottage courts, townhomes, multiplexes, and triplexes.

    Opticos Design founder Daniel Parolek inspired a new movement for housing choice in 2010 when he coined the term  “Missing Middle Housing,” a transformative concept that highlights a time-proven and beloved way to provide more housing and more housing choices in sustainable, walkable places.

    Key insights:

    • For each housing type detailed, a sheet of technical specifications including lot size, number of units, and parking spaces is provided.
    • Idealized specifications are articulated along with a sample site design to display the development potential of each typology.
    • Each housing type is accompanied by a case study of a completed housing project that conforms to these specifications.