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Atherton Building and Remodeling Information
The Town of Atherton is in San Mateo County and has a population of about 7200 residents with 2500 housing units (as of the 2000 census).
Town of Atherton Building Department
The Town of Atherton Building Department website has information on homebuilding regulations, kitchen remodeling, and more. The town's building rules and building requirements exceed the California Building Code (CBC) set by the California Building StandardsCommission. The building department is located between the historic weekend-only train station and the Atherton Town Hall:
Town of Atherton Building Department
93 Station Lane
Atherton CA 94027
Green Building in Atherton
The Atherton EPC, Environmental Programs Committee, in conjunction with the Atherton General Plan, is looking into new green building requirements for Atherton. However, as of 2011, the Town of Atherton does not have a specific green building code beyond those set by San Mateo County or the State of California.
What is Special about Building in Atherton?
One thing that sets home remodeling and home building activities in Atherton apart from other municipalities is that the town not only requires that all contractors must have a valid California contractor’s license and an Atherton business license, but a record of all subcontractors on home improvement projects must be provided.
Building a Basement in Atherton
In 2007, the Town of Atherton placed limits on basement construction (ordinance 571). Here is an excerpt of the building ordinance:
A. Locations for basements
1. Basements are permitted under buildings located within the main
building area. A basement under the main dwelling in the main
building area shall not exceed the floor area of the first floor of the Ordinance 571
main dwelling unless a Conditional Use Permit is obtained from the
Planning Commission for a basement area of up to 130% of the
floor area of the first floor of the main dwelling on the finding that
the basement will not impact heritage trees and there is sufficient
room for landscape screening. At least 80% of the basement area
shall be located under the footprint of the main dwelling.
Basements shall not extend beyond the main building area except as
2. Basements may be located under the footprint of accessory
buildings outside of the main building area with a Conditional Use
Permit from the Planning Commission on the finding that the
basement will not impact heritage trees, there is sufficient room for
landscape screening and with light wells located on the interior side
of the yard. The Planning Commission may impose reasonable
conditions including, but not limited to increased setbacks and
limitation on size of light wells.
3. Garages in basements may be located under buildings located
within the main building area.
B. Floor Area Calculations
1. Basements less than two feet in height above the surrounding average natural grade (measured to the elevation of the finished floor of the first story) are exempt from floor area.
2. Basements in excess of two feet in height above the surrounding average natural grade (measured to the elevation of the finished
floor of the first story) shall be included in the calculation of floor area under sections 17.20.040 and 17.24.040.
3. Exceptions to the requirement of this section for hillside properties
(where the average cross-slope is greater than twenty percent as
determined under Section 16.24.050) may be permitted upon
issuance of a conditional use permit from the Planning Commission
on the finding that; there is sufficient landscape screening, and the
basement will not impact heritage trees. The Planning Commission
may impose reasonable conditions including, but not limited to,
increased setbacks and limitation on size of light wells.
C. Design Requirements
1. Areas for stairways and light wells for basements in the main building
area may extend beyond the footprint of buildings, but shall be
limited to the main building area and shall be screened with
landscaping to minimize the view from adjacent properties.
2. Driveway approach for garages in basements shall be screened from
the public right-of-way by design, landscaping or a solid wall and
gate. The driveway approach shall not negatively impact heritage
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