Credit Alvaro Reyes

Increasing demand for multi-generational housing

AUBURN, Calif. – The Placer County Planning Commission recently voted to approve the Gateway Commons Subdivision in North Auburn with a proposed creative layout that could help boost the county’s “attainable housing” supply.

“Haldeman Homes’ project is a wonderful example of a developer opting to offer a multigenerational housing option to meet the increasing demand for more affordable housing in Placer County,” said Placer County Principal Planner Shawna Purvines. “Our Community Development Resource Agency has seen a sharp increase in accessory dwelling units to accommodate aging family members, children returning home from college or investing in a rental unit as a second source of income.”

The project proposes 18-condominiums consisting of two-unit buildings, each unit sold separately. Due to the sloped lot, four of the buildings, or eight units, will offer a 624 square foot walk-out basement or garden level that could be utilized as an accessory dwelling unit, bonus room, additional living space, or left unfinished.

If an ADU option is selected, the living space would consist of one bedroom and one bathroom for a family member or it could be rented out.
The developer plans to build smaller units on an infill site, a real estate development site that exists within a mostly built out market. The 2.6-acre project site, located on the south side of Gateway Court, east of Plaza Way in North Auburn will provide potential income opportunities for those who purchase these units.

“According to a 2018 survey, community members ranked small multiplexes and accessory dwelling units high on their housing wish list,” said Purvines. “We can help developers meet our community’s demand by offering creative solutions, even for smaller project sites.”

“Gateway Commons provides the practical type of housing for first-time buyers or those looking to downsize,” said Placer County Planning Commission member Wayne Nader. “There is also the opportunity to create a rentable space within some of these homes, thereby adding even more housing, which is urgently needed in the area.”

Last year the county established the Housing Stakeholder Group to develop an overall strategy to provide affordable housing in western Placer County. The group includes developers, builders, real estate professionals and housing advocates.

Jan Haldeman of Haldeman Homes, the developer of the project, participated in the stakeholder group.

“Haldeman Homes decided to invest in reasonably priced housing in our community once we participated in the stakeholder group and learned first-hand about the housing crisis facing our community,” said Haldeman. “We hope the Gateway Commons development will usher in a new wave of affordable housing in Placer.”

Accessory dwelling units are additional structures added to properties with a primary residence. Often called granny flats or in-law quarters, they include all the amenities of a traditional home like a bathroom, kitchen and sleeping area. A junior ADU is a smaller unit built within an existing home (like a garage conversion), which can share facilities like a bathroom with the main home.

In 2019, Governor Gavin Newsom signed into law six bills intended to reduce local barriers to building accessory dwelling units.

Building more ADUs is widely considered to be part of the solution to California’s housing challenges. Because ADUs are smaller than many traditional single-family homes they’re generally more affordable by nature. And they’re often faster to build since they usually don’t require additional utility infrastructure and have fewer permitting restrictions than primary homes.