First update since adoption of new Housing Element shows ADUs lead the way

Julie Reichle

A homeowner installs a new ADU on their Oakland Avenue property in 2021

Piedmont’s Planning Department delivered an update on the city’s progress in implementing the 6th Cycle Housing Element to the City Council at its May 20 meeting. The housing cycle covers the years between 2023-2031; the city is required to prepare annual progress reports to show how it is meeting the state-mandated allocation of new units. Piedmont has spent the last year developing plans to add 587 housing units by 2031 in the following affordability categories: 238 above moderate income; 92 moderate income; 94 low income; and 163 very low income.

The new housing element was adopted in March 2023 and was approved by the state in November 2023.

According to the report and the presentation by Senior Planner Pierce MacDonald and Assistant Planner Joshua Muller, in 2023 the city added 13 completed new homes and issued 24 building permits to construct new accessory dwelling units (ADUs), and the planning division approved 26 permits for new homes (24 permits for ADUs, plus one SB 9 duplex). The report also noted that in 2023 only a total of four building permits for ADUs affordable to residents with very-low incomes were issued which is 17 less than the goal of 21 units affordable to very low income households, annually.

The city says that new programs that include increasing the allowed residential density along portions of Grand Avenue and Highland Avenue, increasing permitted building heights along Grand Avenue, planning for development in Moraga Canyon, streamlining CEQA review, and allowing taller, two-story ADUs in Piedmont will help it improve its housing production numbers going forward.

To meet the state mandate to construct 587 housing units by the end of the planning period in 2031, the report says that the city must issue 80 building permits annually, on average, in a range of housing affordability levels.

Rental survey

The City also conducted a rental survey of Piedmont and Oakland properties to substantiate their assumptions about expected rents for the moderate, low, and very low ADUs in the 2023 annual progress report. From their report:

City of Piedmont staff members surveyed the average rent and average unit size for Piedmont and the surrounding Oakland area. Real estate websites, providing information and services for people seeking rental housing in a publicly accessible format, were used to find average rental rates and other characteristics of the local rental housing market over the 2023 period. Rental information for Oakland is readily available, and Oakland was found to be a larger sample and more reflective of the trends in the local rental market.

Average rents in Piedmont in 2023 total $2,609 per month, a decrease compared to $2,725 for the previous year ( This rent is less than that reported for the surrounding City of Oakland ($2,680 per month average for a 770-square-foot unit), a decrease from $2,850 for an average 780-square-foot unit, last year. Average rental unit size in Piedmont in 2023 remained 770 square feet.

According to the same source, 77% of rental units rent for greater than $2,000 in Piedmont. In Oakland, 81% of units are rented at a rate greater than $2,000. The age and small number of Piedmont rental units and the lack of amenities, such as the shared gyms, parking garages, or rooftop gardens, present in many large rental housing developments, could suggest why Piedmont apartments and ADUs rent for slightly less than Oakland as a percentage of overall units (i.e. fewer luxury apartments in Piedmont).

May 20 staff report, Rental Survey

Leave a Reply

The Exedra comments section is an essential part of the site. The goal of our comments policy is to help ensure it is a vibrant yet civil space. To participate, we ask that Exedra commenters please provide a first and last name. Please note that comments expressing congratulations or condolences may be published without full names. (View our full Comments Policy.)

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *