Recognizing a deficiency of affordable housing, The City of Santa Cruz, California has begun a program based on the reuse of the once vital “granny flat,” or ADU (accessory dwelling unit.) The program embraces the detached garage apartment by relaxing zoning restrictions to exploit existing buildable space, providing additional rental housing for Santa Cruz’s continuously growing population. The reuse of this land allows the city to increase density without faulting neighborhood character. Going several steps further, the city has put together a “how-to” manual including seven prototype designs, while offering low-interest loans for the program participants to make the units more affordable.

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What is particularly exciting about the initiative in Santa Cruz is that the prototypes being promoted with the program are downright cool. The prefabricated units are designed to be easy to assemble, making compact, well designed housing available to those who need it most- where they need it most. Usually urban housing projects are bleak, and affordable units are typically pushed to the outskirts of the city where land is not priced at a premium. Santa Cruz’s Granny Flat program inverts this tradition, encouraging affordable housing in the midst of thriving central neighborhoods.

Although lot owners are still somewhat skeptical, the AIA honored the project with an urban planning award; in the meantime, an outreach program has helped ease some of the “NIMBY” perceptions- although the genius of the program, quite literally, is to utilize one’s own backyard.


via: BLDGBLOG (Thanks Geoff!)