Planning Commission to discuss new programs intended to streamline housing production

An Oakland Ave. ADU

The following is from a July 7, 2023 press release from the City of Piedmont, Department of Planning and Building:

Planning & Building staff will bring information on two proposals aimed at making it easier to create new housing in Piedmont to the Planning Commission for discussion on Monday, July 10 – incentives for creation of affordable ADUs and objective design standards for multifamily and  mixed-use buildings. Both programs are included in the City’s 6th Cycle Housing Element, which was adopted by City Council in March 2023. 

No action on either item will be taken at the meeting. The Commission is expected to consider making recommendations on both proposals at their next meeting on August 14. The proposals would then advance to City Council for adoption. 

Both proposals aim to remove barriers to housing production 

The Multifamily Objective Design Standards (MODS) and Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) incentives are part of the City’s larger effort to remove barriers to housing production and  identify creative ways to make housing in Piedmont more accessible to people of all income levels. 

Both the MODS and ADU incentives are the result of several years of public engagement, including workshops, in-person events, visual preference surveys, and polls. 

ADU Incentives & Pre-Approved Plans 

To streamline the process of building new ADUs, the City has developed a series of permit-ready designs for ADUs appropriate to Piedmont’s built and natural environment. These designs could be submitted as-is to receive a Planning permit, giving applicants a head start on the permitting and development process. Detailed construction and engineering plans unique to the site’s slope and soil conditions would still need to be developed for each ADU before a building permit is  issued. 

Existing City incentives allow for a larger ADU size in exchange for a deed restriction  mandating that if the ADU is rented out, the rent must be affordable to tenants who meet “very  low income” affordability thresholds set by the Association of Bay Area Governments.  

Combined with the affordability incentives, the City expects that simplifying the process of building new ADUs will quicken and increase production of affordable ADUs citywide. 

Local ADU recognized by Piedmont for its excellence in design
Multifamily objective design standards 

Under this proposal, eligible multi-family and mixed-use commercial/residential development applications that conform to a set of measurable, objective standards for architectural elements, landscape, parking, and site design would be approved by directly by staff without a public hearing.  

The standards developed by the City are intended to help maintain privacy and mitigate other possible impacts to neighbors and surrounding single-family properties. They provide specific  guidelines for design elements like: 

  • Setbacks, building placements, and façade design 
  • Size, placement, and materials for windows and outdoor spaces like balconies and decks
  • Location and visibility of parking areas 

The standards would apply only to developments in existing multifamily and mixed-use zones and do not change any existing regulations about density, height, minimum setbacks, or parking. They are simply intended to streamline the review process for multi-family and mixed-use  housing projects that are already allowed by Piedmont’s zoning code. 

Share feedback in person, on Zoom, or by email 

Community members can submit comments regarding the proposed ordinance by email to or speak on the item at Planning Commission in person or  via Zoom. The agenda reports for both items are available for download on, the City’s hub for housing policy and programs. 

Planning Commission 

Monday, July 10th, 2023 @ 5:30pm 
Piedmont City Hall, 120 Vista Avenue 

The meeting will be broadcast live on KCOM-TV, available to Piedmont residents on Comcast Channel 27, AT&T Uverse Channel 99, or streaming online. For questions, contact Senior Planner Pierce Macdonald at

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