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Zoning: general How are accessory dwelling units working for you?

luckless pedestrian

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We have had a few discussions on Accessory Dwelling units speckled in the forums and I have a decent draft zoning article from research; but what I need to know is how are they working? Are people using this part of the ordinance to create the kind of housing you were hoping for?

{Not sure if this is the righ forum so I can move this}
 
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Faust_Motel

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We have had a few discussions on Accessory Dwelling units speckled in the forums and I have a decent draft zoning article from research; but what I need to know is how are they working? Are people using this part of the ordinance to create the kind of housing you were hoping for?
We are very permissive of ADU's and have been for over a decade. (by right as an accessory to any SFH, administrative approval only- practically "over-the-counter") In a municipality with 10,000 people, we probably permit no more than 4-6/year, have never denied one. It definitely creates housing we are hoping for, but not very much of it. Not everybody has the money to build one, not everybody wants to be a landlord to somebody living on the property. If there was more demand, if rents were higher (they are pretty darn high and vacancy rates hover below 3%), or if there was seasonal demand related to tourism, we might see more.

As an aside, we do not regulate short-term rentals at all. My most recent troll through airbnb revealed fewer than 10 units in town available to rent. So whatever's keeping these numbers so low, it isn't us.
 

arcplans

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Yes and No. Have we seen an uptick in applications, yes. In California, each jurisdiction is different. Some charge development impact fees, others, like mine, waives them. Additionally we have so many "bootleg" units that really the focus should be enforcement, and letting folks know it's rather easy to apply and obtain an adu permit. The other issue is that people don't want to sink in the soft costs of a 5K to have a set of plans completed. We are contemplating having a set of "stock" ADU plans that people can use that is 500 sf.
 

ursus

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We've had what I consider great success with them so far. City is about 50,000 people, we're allowing ADUs as a conditional use in all residential zones with certain requirements. We probably process 15 - 20 a year. I rarely have PC meetings that don't include at least one ADU application. And I'm not making this up - after they're implemented I have not had a single complaint about the property for code enforcement. Not 1. People here digging 'em.
 

NHPlanner

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Modified our Zoning a couple years ago to change them to being permitted by right, and removing family restrictions on occupancy (which I don't think were ever legally defensible)...and we've averaged 15-20 new ADU's per year since we adopted the changes (community for just under 26,000).
 

DVD

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I always think we should be more permissive, we only allow it in acre + lots and this odd wannabe rural area south of the city, but when I think about it I know what we'll get is a small handful of homeowners supplementing their income of taking care of family and the majority will end up being developers buying houses in the "right" neighborhoods (smaller lot, closer to downtown, older, historic) and then building small units and renting out both for outrageous sums while putting little effort into actually improving housing stock. We'll end up with a neighborhood of rentals and hipsters who think it's cool to live in a tiny house in someone's back yard. Then of course developers will be screaming for us to allow something bigger than an accessory dwelling and everything will suddenly be duplexes. It's the end of the world people.
 

ursus

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I always think we should be more permissive, we only allow it in acre + lots and this odd wannabe rural area south of the city, but when I think about it I know what we'll get is a small handful of homeowners supplementing their income of taking care of family and the majority will end up being developers buying houses in the "right" neighborhoods (smaller lot, closer to downtown, older, historic) and then building small units and renting out both for outrageous sums while putting little effort into actually improving housing stock. We'll end up with a neighborhood of rentals and hipsters who think it's cool to live in a tiny house in someone's back yard. Then of course developers will be screaming for us to allow something bigger than an accessory dwelling and everything will suddenly be duplexes. It's the end of the world people.
That's the thing: you gotta write it well, and you gotta get your building official on board if you allow the ADU to be part of the main dwelling (attached). They have a little heart-burn to overcome about whether or not it truly represents a "two-family" dwelling at that point and requires code changes. Ours looks specifically for upgrades to smoke/CO detection being connected throughout, compliant egress windows in the bedrooms, and separate access to a heat source for the main living area (prolly not a thing for you down there in hell's furnace, DVD.) We have a lot of people get their old "mother in law apartments" converted for use as a legal ADU just using modern tech for smoke detectors (nest or whatever) and baseboard heaters or fireplace inserts in the ADU portion.
 

DVD

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What we allow is basically everything but the stove. If we cut off 220 for the stove it's not a 2nd unit. I still get conflicted between helping people who need it and giving crappy developers the green light. I get enough problems just dealing with duplex and triplex housing. So we are hitting some of the missing house, just not enough. I think we could handle triplex and quadplex better. More like a building permit and not requiring a full site plan, but I understand the need for site plans when half the times I hear how they just aren't able to fit a covered parking space anywhere on the property while trying to cram three units on a tiny residential lot. Sorry, feeling cynical today.
 

mendelman

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For about the last 5 years, we've permitted them as 'In-law suites' requiring conditional approval, ownership occupancy of the principal house and part of the principal building.

We haven't had any come through the formal conditional approval process nor had any generated through illegal creation (that I'm aware of).

I don't think we're ready (as a community) for a full, by-right ADU ordinance.
 
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