An unincorporated area of San Mateo County, the tiny town of Atherton has a major market for mansions. In fact, Atherton has been the most affluent zip code in the nation in the past and is home to Silicon Valley’s tech darlings like Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg and Google’s Eric Schmidt. By utilizing the expansive lots and existing infrastructure of their single family homes, accessory dwellings are a practical solution for making room for family, friends and creative pursuits. Other benefits of these small homes include the valuable opportunity for multigenerational living, supplemental income for owners and affordable housing for renters. Our first project in Atherton was for a couple that was not extraordinarily wealthy (well, aside from their small cottage’s unreal value) and they needed an in-law for several personal reasons and plans they had for their kids and themselves. Interestingly, the billionaires down the street have the same personal goals for their home – it’s just a wildly different scale and budget.
Here are a few of the requirements related to accessory dwelling units in Atherton, though you’ll have to review the municipal code for the most accurate definition, requirements, variances and exceptions:
- The second unit shall not exceed 1,200 sq ft (doubled in 2010 from previous maximum of 600 sq ft)
- May enroach into the side and rear yard setbacks by not more than twenty percent of the required setback
- Maximum height is thirty feet
- Parking requirements are 1 space per number of bedrooms in second unit
In addition, the owner must occupy either (or both) the main house or second unit. Verify with the Planning Division to confirm your requirements in your zoning district. Learn more about accessory dwellings by learning about our process, read our client stories or contact us today if you are interested in building your own backyard cottage.