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Thread: Mother-in-law dwellings in single family zones

  1. #26
    Cyburbian Tide's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Streck View post
    In order to comply with one's own zoning ordinance, and to protect the "Single Family" (or Single Dwelling Unit) Zone, should a "Mother-in-law" Cottage be only allowed in zones that allow at least two dwellings per lot?
    No because a "MIL" is an Accessory Dwelling Unit and is treated as an Accessory Use. Now, you can make it a conditional use on top of an accessory use but please don't get blinded by the fact that you think you are all of a sudden going to double the density of an area. If the utilities, roads and all can handle it and there is large enough lots to do this and they are separate units why are these bad things? If you limit the overall size of an ADU to somewhere between 600-1200 sq ft. you can make it one story or allow two you can come up with something that fits.

    It sounds like those against it don't really have a vision of what they would like for both the neighborhood or the ADUs. Get a vision first then figure out how to make that code work.
    @GigCityPlanner

  2. #27
    Cyburbian Streck's avatar
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    We find that Single Family (or Single Dwelling) zoning districts are our most desireable living areas. They have also attracted more people and businesses to our area. We also find that the residents that choose to live there are more civic minded in joining and leading civic minded groups such as school organizations, youth programs, charities for less fortunate, support promotion and involvement in civic activities, pride in community, up-keep of their own property and public property, provide good examples for our community, and they have the lowest crime rate. Because of that, we wish to encourage them, protect them, and expand them.

    We figured out a long time ago that that was our vision for future community development.

    I like your idea of limiting the size. I also like the idea of Dan to limit the size, have it attached as part of the main dwelling, and to require rear access.

    I think these are all good suggestions to keep the desireable SF or Single Dwelling District from deterioriating to a Duplex or Multi-Dwelling area after the mother-in-law or owners have passed on.

  3. #28
    Cyburbian Raf's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Streck View post

    I like your idea of limiting the size. I also like the idea of Dan to limit the size, have it attached as part of the main dwelling, and to require rear access.

    I think these are all good suggestions to keep the desireable SF or Single Dwelling District from deterioriating to a Duplex or Multi-Dwelling area after the mother-in-law or owners have passed on.
    Honestly, if you are worried about owner occupied or renter occupied than simply a) limit the size of the unit and b) allow only a "guesthouse" i.e. a facility that does not have a kitchen. That is a true granny unit.
    follow me on the twitter @rcplans

  4. #29
    Cyburbian mike gurnee's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by CPSURaf View post
    Honestly, if you are worried about owner occupied or renter occupied than simply a) limit the size of the unit and b) allow only a "guesthouse" i.e. a facility that does not have a kitchen. That is a true granny unit.
    Exactly. A MIL facility is not a complete dwelling unit. Most often no kitchen, and accessible to the remainder of the structure when attached. An accessory apartment, on the other hand, is a seperate and distinct dwelling unit.

  5. #30
    Cyburbian Streck's avatar
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    But what constitutes a "kitchen?"

    A sink?

    An under counter refrigerator?

    A microwave oven?

    A counter top?

    Cabinets?

    Are you going to deny "grandma" these essentials? Or your "guesthouse?"

    And if you allow them for "grandma" or "guesthouse," then you have allowed them for any other independent living entity, such as a second dwelling "group."

    And "kitchens" are not defined in most zoning regulations.

    And more and more contemporary "families" do not depend on full kitchens now, anyway.



    I am not trying to be argumentative with anyone here. I appreciate your suggestions. It is just that it is a real problem in maintaining high standards for the community while still assuring legalities and fairness and clarity.



    Our main point is to encourage owner occupied dwellings, because of our experience with their direct interest in the up-keep of the property, and their contribution to the community because of their vested interest as an owner.

  6. #31
    Cyburbian Raf's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Streck View post
    But what constitutes a "kitchen?"

    A sink?
    An under counter refrigerator?
    A microwave oven?
    A counter top?
    Cabinets?
    Are you going to deny "grandma" these essentials? Or your "guesthouse?"
    And if you allow them for "grandma" or "guesthouse," then you have allowed them for any other independent living entity, such as a second dwelling "group."

    And "kitchens" are not defined in most zoning regulations.

    And more and more contemporary "families" do not depend on full kitchens now, anyway.

    I am not trying to be argumentative with anyone here. I appreciate your suggestions. It is just that it is a real problem in maintaining high standards for the community while still assuring legalities and fairness and clarity.


    Our main point is to encourage owner occupied dwellings, because of our experience with their direct interest in the up-keep of the property, and their contribution to the community because of their vested interest as an owner.
    Ok your not being argumentative, but you are ignorant, irrational, and based on your post half the time i question how you are even a "planner" or how you stumbled across your job.

    So what constitutes a kitchen? Do you have a building department? Does your state have a building code? I am sure it does. So why not use some of those for consistency purposes and define what a kitchen is here (that's what we did, consistent with the California Building Code) a kitchen is defined as:

    A room with a stove and a hood supression system. Wow. hard huh? Obviously if you think otherwise, that's ok because...

    Kitchens aren't defined in your zoning code today. I thought Planners "planned". So go and define it dummy. Obviously your going to have to do some sort of amendment to allow 2nd units, so at that time, define "terms" for your regulation. For Christ sake.

    It's obvious you have never written an ordinance or code. You limit the use of your "kitchen" or other items specially to 2nd units. Obviously this wouldn't apply to SFR, Group Homes, etc because you tailor the ordinance specific to the use you are creating.

    As for your premise the "contemporary family doesn't use a kitchen anymore" ok. Define contemporary? Seriously lad, look around you. We are spuddering in a recession here. I am certain you don't live in the heart of the City. No one, and I mean no one, in a typical SFR goes out to eat three times a day and could support a 2nd family member living in another quarters doing the same. If you community does, than welcome to planning for the 1%. If your concern is you community tripping out over all these "rentals" and let's be frank, your community are thinking "those people moving in" and we all know who "those people are". I don't need to tell you who they are, you just know. Your original post wanted to create "mother-n-law" units and attempting to ensure that someone is related or part of the single family unit. I have already advised you that more than likely it won't stick, check your Federal Fair Housing laws.

    As for assuring legality and clarity, your obviously not going to write new rules here without some sort of public involvement or workshop right? They taught you that in school. And when your almost done, consultant with your counsel, I mean seriously, who writes new rules with a consultant from an attorney.

    Our main point is to encourage owner occupied dwellings, because of our experience with their direct interest in the up-keep of the property, and their contribution to the community because of their vested interest as an owner.
    Let's be real. Your only interest here is maintaining perceived property values because "those people" trash a neighborhood. That's real talk.

    I am out.
    follow me on the twitter @rcplans

  7. #32
    Unfrozen Caveman Planner mendelman's avatar
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    Moderator note:
    Raf - watch the ad hominems. The naming calling was not necessary.

    Don't assume Streck is a professional planner....he may be a commissioner/citizen planner.
    Last edited by mendelman; 18 Jun 2012 at 3:19 PM.
    I'm sorry. Is my bias showing?

    The ends can justify the means.

  8. #33
    Cyburbian SW MI Planner's avatar
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    Our code does not allow ADU or mother in law flats or whatever - single family is single family. They used to allow a full second unit for family (not because code allowed it, just because they did) but 7 out of 10 times the property has been sold and the accessory unit turned into an illegal rentals. I've been interested in this thread to see what other communities do to see if there is some compromise that we can come up with. Thanks to those with sincere responses, I now have a few ideas on how to make it work.

    Oh, and apparently because it’s now a prerequisite, perhaps I should qualify that I am a planner with almost fifteen years of experience, try to do a great job in my community, and yet I too have had the same questions and have had to deal with them. We deal with this all the time (and no not to keep "those people" out), and these same questions have come up where building, code, zoning don't have a common ground on how to define it or deal with it. For example, what if a room has a stove top and the vent fan removed (but all the equipment is still in place). Is that still a kitchen? What if a room doesn't have a stove but has a refrigerator, microwave, dishwasher and a hot plate. Is that a kitchen? Maybe not per definition, but we all know how it's going to be used. Before writing any code, these and other questions need to be asked and considered so that the proposed ordinance is easily understood and enforced. The questions Streck asked were completely appropriate and directly related to this thread. You can make all the regulations you want but if they are not defined well there is no way you can enforce them.

    Lastly, if anyone should wonder why Cyburbia isn't taken seriously, just read Raf’s response to know why. There are folks that want to also visit non-FAC threads so they can learn and get a better understanding of things, but why the hell take a chance on posting a question or response when that is what you get back. Responses that include verbal assaults and insults are disgusting and should not be acceptable.

  9. #34
    Cyburbian Streck's avatar
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    Does anyone have a recommended definition for an allowable "mother-in-law dwelling"?

    For example:

    Accessory Dwelling Unit:

    An Accessory structure may be used as a dwelling unit under the following conditions:

    Allowed zones: Any zone, but will be counted as one of the allowable dwelling units in any Multi-dwelling zones. It may be used as a care-taker dwelling or guard house in non-residential zones.

    Number allowed per lot: One

    Maximum Area: 750 square feet

    Location: Must be within the Buildable Area of the lot (ie, no portions in Required Yards)

    Entry: May not face the street or have a separate street address.

    Attachment: The ADU must be attached to the main residence in Residential Zones.

    Access: Must use the same driveway as the main structure,

    Parking: May have separate designated parking space as required.


    Other condiditions?

  10. #35
    Cyburbian Tide's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Streck View post
    Location: Must be within the Buildable Area of the lot (ie, no portions in Required Yards)

    Entry: May not face the street or have a separate street address.

    Attachment: The ADU must be attached to the main residence in Residential Zones.
    What does this do to corner lots?

    Talk to your Chief Building Official about requiring it to be attached to the main DU. Depending on the state code this could trigger necessary upgrades. Again, the idea behind the ADU is that it is accessory to the main unit. I can see keeping it within the main building envelope but do not require it to be attached, because then you have a true duplex at that point.
    @GigCityPlanner

  11. #36
    Cyburbian Streck's avatar
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    Tide said:

    "What does this do to corner lots?"

    Streck responds:

    I am not sure of the meaning of this question, but if the question is about the entry, the entry should still be from the interior of the lot rather than having an entry directly facing a street - either street. The entry would be from the back porch for example.

    Not allowing street addresses would further discourage renting out the unit for business purposes rather than for use as a true "mother-in-law" cottage (or temporary guest house). This would also facilitate reversion to Single Dwelling use when it is no longer needed as a "mother-in-law" facility.

    The "attachment" provision is meant to discourage or prevent the appearance of multiple dwellings on the same lot - especially in the Single Dwelling zone.

    Yes, the intent would be to keep it within the same building envelope, but usually "mother-in-law" facilities are requested to be added years after the main structure has been built, so the reason for allowing it as an "attachment." And yes, there should be some architectural design sensitivity involved, but that is another question.

    Yes, the Building Code Official would be involved anyway, because the construction would require a Building Permit review and approval before construction or occupancy.


    I realize that some jurisdictions treat "attachment" as being across lot lines. This is not allowed in our jurisdiction (a Required Yard is required in all cases).

  12. #37
    Cyburbian developmentguru's avatar
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    I didn't find Streck's question ridiculous at all, though I did find the immediate response offensive.

    We are having the same problem. A determination was made some years ago based on the building code at that time that "kitchen" meant an area with a 220 plug for a stove. However, we are seeing the same thing that Streck is. Tons of complaints, and people openly defying the intent of the code (to leave these neighborhoods with one living unit per lot) by throwing in a sink, microwave, fridge, convection oven...everything but. Now, clearly, that's a kitchen. And telling a complainant that we can't work a zoning violation because they do not have a stove...yes, you can imagine how well THAT'S going to go over...it's compounded by the fact that the realty community actively markets single-family homes "with additional income opportunities" only for those buyers to hear later that there are rules that preclude this. And proving an apartment is a legally nonconforming use...whew.

    We're actively researching and conducting discussions to determine how best to move forward, but just wanted to let Streck and others know that these questions are very relevant...as well as to hear suggestions from others. It's been an interesting thread so far!
    "In our profession, a plan that everyone dislikes for different reasons is a success. A plan everyone dislikes for the same reason is a failure. And a plan that everyone likes for the same reason is an act of God." - Richard Carson

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