Study Points Way to Solving the Housing Crisis in San Francisco’s Bay Area

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ACL Real Estate and Property Management analyzes a recent study to discuss the rising housing demand in the Bay Area and how single family homes in East Bay can provide the solution.

ACL Real Estate and Property Management

One type of secondary unit – the backyard cottage – could yield substantial infill growth with minimal public subsidy.

With San Francisco’s Bay Area fast becoming one of the most expensive regions for housing, single-family homes have a new way to go to make the most of their real estate, says full service real estate and property management firm, ACL Real Estate and Property Management. A study published in the Journal of Urbanism: International Research on Placemaking and Urban Sustainability (Vol 7, Issue 3, 2014) looked at sustainable growth for the Bay Area’s individual homes.

In a research entitled “Hidden density in single-family neighborhoods: backyard cottages as an equitable smart growth strategy” by Jake Wegmann and Karen Chapple , “Secondary units, or separate small dwellings embedded within single-family residential properties, constitute a frequently overlooked strategy for urban infill in high-cost metropolitan areas in the United States… One type of secondary unit – the backyard cottage – could yield substantial infill growth with minimal public subsidy. In addition, it is found that this strategy compares favorably in terms of affordability with infill of the sort traditionally favored in the ‘smart growth’ literature, i.e. the construction of dense multifamily housing developments.”

With rising urban density in the metropolitans of the country, adequate housing is becoming a challenge. What is needed for sustainable housing is “smart growth.” Urban planning has for a long time now delineated areas for single family homes away from the city center. Even if multifamily housing is to be created, such as tall apartment buildings and condos, they will take time. Researcher Jake Wegmann believes that the easiest way out is to construct backyard cottages or individual “micro-units” within the perimeter of single family properties. The best part is that they don’t take up too much space, money or time to construct.

Wegmman and Chapple believe that the best place to start with this type of housing is East Bay. Bay Area sees huge demand for housing but living within the city is an expensive proposition. The aspects in favor of East Bay are its robust transit network, the right population density to promote urbanized growth and easily walkable districts. The recent study shows that using the infill strategy of backyard cottages to single-family homes, there is potential for the addition of about 8,700 units in East Bay, of which a majority would be located close to transit hubs.

Construction of that many new homes would take anywhere between 18 and 43 years. On the other hand, once the requisite permissions are obtained, backyard cottages can be built as quickly as within six months. ACL Real Estate and Property Management believes that this would solve the building housing crisis in the region. With years of experience helping clients find homes to buy and rent, the company believes that this infill solution could help East Bay achieve much more than half the area’s estimated housing needs by 2040.

About ACL Real Estate and Property Management: As one of the fasted growing full service real estate and property management firms in the East Bay and Peninsular regions, ACL Real Estate and Property Management has a proven track record in quality service and reliability. Apart from offering full-scale real estate brokerage, the company also provides comprehensive property management services to ease the process of selecting tenants, maintaining the home and ensuring timely rent collection for homeowners.


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Charles Lassey
ACL Real Estate
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