San Jose Passes Amnesty Program for Illegal Housing Units

Keith Menconi
January 08, 2020 - 5:10 pm
Houses in San Jose.

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Owners of the hundreds, if not thousands, of illegal housing units in San Jose are getting the chance for a clean slate, The city has a newly passed amnesty program for accessory dwelling units.

The problem is that many units are not on the books, because they do not meet guidelines. 

“We know that some people have converted their garages into living units without taking the steps to make sure they’ve done it in a very safe way,” said Cheryl Wessling from the city's Department of Planning, Building and Coding Enforcement.

Given the region’s housing crisis, however, the city would like to keep make the housing legitimate. 

On Tuesday, the San Jose City Council unanimously supported an amnesty measure that would allow owners of illicit granny flats to start the permit process without facing a penalty. It would also allow them to have third party inspectors visit and determine what changes are needed to bring the property up to code.

San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo told KCBS Radio that the city is providing a path for those who want to make their accessory dwellings safe.

The city has suggested it may overlook code violations that are merely aesthetic.

“We do want to make sure you’re safe,” Mayor Liccardo said. “We don’t want children sleeping next to gas heaters, for example.”

The two-year pilot program will be launched this month.