A backyard dwelling made by Berkeley-based Avava. Photo: Avava


Despite their dull name, accessory dwelling units are the flavor of the moment. At both state and city levels, officials are working to make them easier to build by, among other things, streamlining the permitting process. Some who are running for office locally are including them in their policy platforms; and they are seen as one solution to the current housing shortage and a way to create denser urban hubs. The Mercury News recently reported that, according to UC Berkeley’s Terner Center for Housing Innovation, the number of building permit applications San Jose received for ADUs increased five-fold between 2015 and last year — from 28 to 166. In Oakland, the number went from 33 to 247, and in San Francisco from 41 to 593. Berkeley too has embraced what are known more colloquially as granny flats, in-law units or backyard cottages. And, tonight, the city is holding a Community Town Hall on ADUs. “Come learn about a new housing solution that may fit in your budget. ADUs can be perfect for seniors who want to age in place, for creating housing for caregivers or extended family, or just earning a little extra cash. They are also a great tool to help communities build more affordable housing,” writes the city. Details: Jan. 25, 6-8 p.m., Longfellow Middle School, 1500 Derby St, Berkeley. RSVP or send questions to the panel at berkeley.adu@gmail.com


Sunset in downtown Berkeley, which ranks 13th in a new Top 100 Best Places to Live league. Photo: Emilie Raguso

Berkeley has been named one of the Top 100 Best Places to Live 2018 by Livability.com, outpacing more than 2,100 cities (with populations between 20,000 and 350,000) in this data-driven ranking. Cal’s home comes in at 13 on the list, whose ranking builds on a process initially developed with leading urban theorist, Richard Florida. Seven factors are considered, including civic life, education, economy, health and housing. Livability describes Berkeley thus: “Nearly 70 percent of adult residents in the city have an associate’s degree or better, and most Berkeley citizens remain advocates for social change and equality. A high-rated healthcare network is anchored by Alta Bates Summit Medical Center, and the main thoroughfare for entertainment venues in the city is Shattuck Avenue, which passes through several unique neighborhoods. Other quality-of-life-boosting luxuries in Berkeley include multiple parks, great weather and a thriving downtown that is seeing more millennials moving in.” How does that sound?


2758 Piedmont Ave.: for sale with a list price of $1.95 million. Photo: The Grubb Company

Curbed SF picked up on the recent listing of 2758 Piedmont Ave. in Berkeley’s Elmwood neighborhood, a three-bedroom, three-bathroom Craftsman designed by Leola Hall, that is asking $1,595,000. The house, which is located in a sweet cluster of Leola Hall-designed homes, was extensively restored with help of Berkeley’s Slant Studio after it was last bought, in 2013. It now boasts a renovated open-plan kitchen as well as, according to the listing agent, “high-tech bells and whistles,” along with all the requisite 1910 period charm. We aren’t going to hazard a guess as to what the house will fetch, given how popular both this style of architecture and this particular zip code are, but the (smaller) Leola Hall home kitty corner to this one, which listed in November for $995,000, closed escrow the following month at $1,615,000 — a mere $620,000 above the asking price.

Tracey Taylor is co-founder of Berkeleyside and co-founder and editorial director of Cityside, the nonprofit parent to Berkeleyside and The Oaklandside. Before launching Berkeleyside, Tracey wrote for...