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City Will Offer Free Virtual Consultations for ADU Construction in …



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Shed with terrace and wooden garden furniture during spring

Pasadena residents interested in building accessory dwelling units (ADUs) can now book virtual consultations with city staff starting on Thursday, March 2.

The city’s Planning and Community Development department announced Tuesday that it will offer online appointments every Thursday afternoon to provide general information on building and zoning code requirements for ADUs.

ADUs are small, independent residential units that can be attached or detached from a primary residence. They are seen as a way to increase housing supply and affordability in California.

Jennifer Paige, the acting director of Planning and Community Development, said the virtual consultations are part of the city’s efforts to accelerate ADU production and offer services based on community requests.

The appointments will last for 30 minutes and will include staff from both Building and Zoning. Interested individuals can visit cityofpasadena.net/planning/adu for more information or to book a consultation.

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Shed with terrace and wooden garden furniture during springPasadena residents interested in building accessory dwelling units (ADUs) can now book virtual consultations with city staff starting on Thursday, March 2.

The city’s Planning and Community Development department announced Tuesday that it will offer online appointments every Thursday afternoon to provide general information on building and zoning code requirements for ADUs.

ADUs are small, independent residential units that can be attached or detached from a primary residence. They are seen as a way to increase housing supply and affordability in California.

Jennifer Paige, the acting director of Planning and Community Development, said the virtual consultations are part of the city’s efforts to accelerate ADU production and offer services based on community requests.

The appointments will last for 30 minutes and will include staff from both Building and Zoning. Interested individuals can visit cityofpasadena.net/planning/adu for more information or to book a consultation.

Get our daily Pasadena newspaper in your email box. Free.
Get all the latest Pasadena news, more than 10 fresh stories daily, 7 days a week at 7 a.m.

City Will Offer Free Virtual Consultations for ADU Construction in …  Pasadena Now

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Anne Arundel County Council debates best policies for accessory …

The Anne Arundel County Council refined a new bill Tuesday to relax existing laws around creating accessory dwelling units.

The legislation, sponsored by Democratic Council members Lisa Rodvien, of Annapolis, Allison Pickard, of Glen Burnie, and Julie Hummer, of Laurel, would make it easier for homeowners to create spaces, commonly referred to as secondary suites, accessory apartments and “granny” flats, on the property of a single-family home where another person could live independently. The bill proposes changes including allowing detached dwellings on the property, altering square-footage requirements of the ADU and repealing limits on the size of properties on which an ADU can be built.

Rodvien, Hummer and Council Chair Pete Smith, a Democrat from Severn, defeated an amendment to the bill proposed by Pasadena Republican Nathan Volke that would require each accessory dwelling unit have a corresponding parking space on the lot. While Volke’s Republican colleagues, Shannon Leadbetter from Crofton and Amanda Fiedler from Arnold, voted in favor of the amendment, it failed to pass in a three-to-three vote. Pickard was absent from the meeting.

“We’re going to have a lot of parking problems. That’s the concern that I have with this,” Volke said. “I hear a lot about parking complaints under the existing code, let alone what would loosen for ADUs.”

Leadbetter, who added herself as an amendment co-sponsor, agreed that allowing for more density without new parking requirements could cause parking problems and invite safety issues. She noted the density of cars could potentially lead to obstacles for emergency vehicles getting to residents in need.

“In our district, we have numerous areas where street parking is already a problem that I hear,” Leadbetter said. “It’s a top concern for a lot of folks.”

The bill would eliminate limits on the size of properties — currently 14,000 square feet or more — that could house an ADU. It would implement a limit on the size of detached ADUs to the lesser of 800 square feet or 50% of the single-family home’s floor area.

It’s important to remember that many of the folks who would most likely rent out these lower-cost units — young professionals who depend on public transit, live-in caretakers and elderly people who wish to remain living with their families — can’t afford cars, Rodvien noted.

“The whole goal here is affordable housing and if we put obstacles in the path of affordable housing, we’re not going to get the affordable housing that we need,” Rodvien said. “I also am really, really struggling with the idea of prioritizing space for cars over space for people.”

She added that developing an accessory dwelling unit is a big undertaking and it’s unlikely there will be one on every block. It would be an achievement to have one per neighborhood, Rodvien said. Annapolis, a city of around 40,000 people, passed a law that legalized renting out accessory dwelling units in October 2021. The city ordinance did not include a parking requirement.

No rentable accessory dwelling units are currently approved in Annapolis, said city spokesperson Mitchelle Stephenson, though two homeowners have submitted applications. According to Annapolis Alderman Brooks Schandelmeier, a Ward 5 Democrat who co-sponsored the city bill, part of the reason for the low number is the cost of building them, which can run into the tens of thousands of dollars.

The council passed a second amendment to eliminate a requirement that the main single-family home or the accessory dwelling unit would need to be occupied by the owner. The amendment would also require the full property to be rented as a whole for short-term rentals.

Rodvien and Smith co-sponsored the amendment to remove another potential impediment to residents wishing to rent out these units or their primary homes on the lot.

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If the bill passes, Schandelmeier said the owner occupancy amendment will make it an improvement on the city’s accessory dwelling unit law. He hopes this will encourage the city to make improvements to its version of the law.

Ahead of the council’s final vote on the bill, which will take place at its next meeting March 6 at the earliest barring any more amendments, 19 people wrote online testimonials in defense of the bill. Additionally, a variety of speakers representing groups including the League of Women Voters, Anne Arundel County Association of Realtors, AARP and the Institute for Justice spoke to the benefits of accessory dwelling units.

“I bought a house with an ADU attached unit in the city of Annapolis and it really enabled me, a modestly paid state employee, to live in the nice house,” said Trudy McFall, chair of the Anne Arundel County Affordable Housing Coalition. “I have rented that unit to teachers, people of relatively modest incomes who could never have rented a house where I live.”

Annapolis resident Greg Cantori thanked the county for creating more actionable legislation than the state. A bill going through the legislature would create an Accessory Dwelling Unit Promotion and Policy Task Force to study and review the concept. It’s been co-sponsored by Prince George’s and Anne Arundel County Del. Mary Lehman.

“What we found across the country is that when ADU ordinances are permitted, we don’t see a great uptick in the number of units,” Cantori said. “I want you to go from just permitting them to promoting them. Promoting them means that you actually are going to be asking the homeowners to take an active role in our housing issue and it means things like low-interest loans, grants for people with lower incomes — lower-income homeowners as well as lower-income renters.”

The bill will have another public hearing March 6 at the 7 p.m. council meeting.

The Anne Arundel County Council refined a new bill Tuesday to relax existing laws around creating accessory dwelling units.
The legislation, sponsored by Democratic Council members Lisa Rodvien, of Annapolis, Allison Pickard, of Glen Burnie, and Julie Hummer, of Laurel, would make it easier for homeowners to create spaces, commonly referred to as secondary suites, accessory apartments and “granny” flats, on the property of a single-family home where another person could live independently. The bill proposes changes including allowing detached dwellings on the property, altering square-footage requirements of the ADU and repealing limits on the size of properties on which an ADU can be built.
Rodvien, Hummer and Council Chair Pete Smith, a Democrat from Severn, defeated an amendment to the bill proposed by Pasadena Republican Nathan Volke that would require each accessory dwelling unit have a corresponding parking space on the lot. While Volke’s Republican colleagues, Shannon Leadbetter from Crofton and Amanda Fiedler from Arnold, voted in favor of the amendment, it failed to pass in a three-to-three vote. Pickard was absent from the meeting.
“We’re going to have a lot of parking problems. That’s the concern that I have with this,” Volke said. “I hear a lot about parking complaints under the existing code, let alone what would loosen for ADUs.”
Leadbetter, who added herself as an amendment co-sponsor, agreed that allowing for more density without new parking requirements could cause parking problems and invite safety issues. She noted the density of cars could potentially lead to obstacles for emergency vehicles getting to residents in need.
“In our district, we have numerous areas where street parking is already a problem that I hear,” Leadbetter said. “It’s a top concern for a lot of folks.”
The bill would eliminate limits on the size of properties — currently 14,000 square feet or more — that could house an ADU. It would implement a limit on the size of detached ADUs to the lesser of 800 square feet or 50% of the single-family home’s floor area.
It’s important to remember that many of the folks who would most likely rent out these lower-cost units — young professionals who depend on public transit, live-in caretakers and elderly people who wish to remain living with their families — can’t afford cars, Rodvien noted.

“The whole goal here is affordable housing and if we put obstacles in the path of affordable housing, we’re not going to get the affordable housing that we need,” Rodvien said. “I also am really, really struggling with the idea of prioritizing space for cars over space for people.”
She added that developing an accessory dwelling unit is a big undertaking and it’s unlikely there will be one on every block. It would be an achievement to have one per neighborhood, Rodvien said. Annapolis, a city of around 40,000 people, passed a law that legalized renting out accessory dwelling units in October 2021. The city ordinance did not include a parking requirement.
No rentable accessory dwelling units are currently approved in Annapolis, said city spokesperson Mitchelle Stephenson, though two homeowners have submitted applications. According to Annapolis Alderman Brooks Schandelmeier, a Ward 5 Democrat who co-sponsored the city bill, part of the reason for the low number is the cost of building them, which can run into the tens of thousands of dollars.
The council passed a second amendment to eliminate a requirement that the main single-family home or the accessory dwelling unit would need to be occupied by the owner. The amendment would also require the full property to be rented as a whole for short-term rentals.
Rodvien and Smith co-sponsored the amendment to remove another potential impediment to residents wishing to rent out these units or their primary homes on the lot.

Breaking News AlertsAs it happens

When big news breaks in our area, be the first to know.
If the bill passes, Schandelmeier said the owner occupancy amendment will make it an improvement on the city’s accessory dwelling unit law. He hopes this will encourage the city to make improvements to its version of the law.
Ahead of the council’s final vote on the bill, which will take place at its next meeting March 6 at the earliest barring any more amendments, 19 people wrote online testimonials in defense of the bill. Additionally, a variety of speakers representing groups including the League of Women Voters, Anne Arundel County Association of Realtors, AARP and the Institute for Justice spoke to the benefits of accessory dwelling units.
“I bought a house with an ADU attached unit in the city of Annapolis and it really enabled me, a modestly paid state employee, to live in the nice house,” said Trudy McFall, chair of the Anne Arundel County Affordable Housing Coalition. “I have rented that unit to teachers, people of relatively modest incomes who could never have rented a house where I live.”
Annapolis resident Greg Cantori thanked the county for creating more actionable legislation than the state. A bill going through the legislature would create an Accessory Dwelling Unit Promotion and Policy Task Force to study and review the concept. It’s been co-sponsored by Prince George’s and Anne Arundel County Del. Mary Lehman.
“What we found across the country is that when ADU ordinances are permitted, we don’t see a great uptick in the number of units,” Cantori said. “I want you to go from just permitting them to promoting them. Promoting them means that you actually are going to be asking the homeowners to take an active role in our housing issue and it means things like low-interest loans, grants for people with lower incomes — lower-income homeowners as well as lower-income renters.”
The bill will have another public hearing March 6 at the 7 p.m. council meeting.

Anne Arundel County Council debates best policies for accessory …  Capital Gazette

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Garden City expands ADU size, but tiny home on wheels talks still …

If you’d like to build an ADU in Garden City, you’ve got some new ground rules to follow. 

Garden City City Council is in the final stages of approving a new set of rules governing accessory dwelling units, or mother-in-law suites. The small, secondary homes have become more popular as the Treasure Valley grows and homeowners are looking for options to house family members close by or make extra rental income. These new rules expand the size of ADUs allowed in Garden City, allowing larger units than its big municipal brother Boise.

The new ordinance allows for a maximum size of 800 square feet for an ADU or half of the size of the main house, whichever is greater. This is larger than the 700 square foot maximum allowed in Boise, but smaller than the maximum allowed in Portland and California. 

Garden City ADUs must be located behind the main home, on a foundation and there can only be one on each property. All ADUs also have to include a minimum of 300 square feet to ensure there’s enough space for a kitchen, a bathroom and shower. This ordinance also does not trump any governing documents for homes located in an HOA banning ADUs. 

This change is part of several revamps to city code Garden City is undertaking, with its new parking code set to be decided in the coming weeks being the most contentious. The small city has seen rapid growth and is rapidly turning over from a community with large swaths covered in mobile home parks to a Mecca for upscale, infill housing along the Boise River.

The ADU code proposal does not lay out parking requirements because this issue will be covered in the new parking rules adopted by the city council later. Garden City has to revamp its parking code after a successful lawsuit from developer Jason Jones led to an opinion from a judge calling the city’s regulations parking inadequate.  

‘Not a comprehensive strategy’ 

ADUs might be a housing option for GC residents as the city continues to grow denser, but it probably won’t solve the area’s demand for affordable housing. 

Mayor John Evans said the goal for the ordinance was to open up more diversity of housing types in the city and give property owners with larger lots options to house family members or make rental income. But, he acknowledged that in a landlocked, highly developed community like Garden City there are not many lots with enough room for an ADU that aren’t in an HOA. 

“It’s not a comprehensive strategy,” he said. “There just isn’t enough locations they could be placed to make a significant dent in the affordable housing discussion.”

City Council President James Page agreed. He said the idea behind the ordinance was to provide options for people to increase flexibility for housing on their properties. But because of the small spaces in ADUs, the difficulties with storage and how the more affordable materials sometimes used to build them can lead to deterioration, Page doesn’t think they should be the city’s move on affordable housing. 

“To me, an ADU seems like a temporary part of the puzzle,” he said. “I think these solutions are well-meaning and they help people in crisis, but I don’t think they’re a long-term solution to affordability.”

What about tiny homes on wheels?

At the same time, Garden City has been studying a proposal to allow tiny homes on wheels in Garden City from 2021 mayoral candidate Hannah Ball and Jones, the developer who sued the city over parking rules, for over a year. Tiny homes on wheels function differently than ADUs and can be moved by their owner somewhat akin to a mobile home, but aren’t as large and are cheaper to transport. 

The proposal has come before the council for deliberation and drafting several times, but a deal to pass it hasn’t been reached. Evans said the discussions with Ball and Jones have been “interesting,” but the ordinance isn’t high on his list of priorities right now as the city prepares for a series of contentious hearings on a proposal for dense housing at the River Club. 

If you’d like to build an ADU in Garden City, you’ve got some new ground rules to follow. 

Garden City City Council is in the final stages of approving a new set of rules governing accessory dwelling units, or mother-in-law suites. The small, secondary homes have become more popular as the Treasure Valley grows and homeowners are looking for options to house family members close by or make extra rental income. These new rules expand the size of ADUs allowed in Garden City, allowing larger units than its big municipal brother Boise.

The new ordinance allows for a maximum size of 800 square feet for an ADU or half of the size of the main house, whichever is greater. This is larger than the 700 square foot maximum allowed in Boise, but smaller than the maximum allowed in Portland and California. 

Garden City ADUs must be located behind the main home, on a foundation and there can only be one on each property. All ADUs also have to include a minimum of 300 square feet to ensure there’s enough space for a kitchen, a bathroom and shower. This ordinance also does not trump any governing documents for homes located in an HOA banning ADUs. 

This change is part of several revamps to city code Garden City is undertaking, with its new parking code set to be decided in the coming weeks being the most contentious. The small city has seen rapid growth and is rapidly turning over from a community with large swaths covered in mobile home parks to a Mecca for upscale, infill housing along the Boise River.

The ADU code proposal does not lay out parking requirements because this issue will be covered in the new parking rules adopted by the city council later. Garden City has to revamp its parking code after a successful lawsuit from developer Jason Jones led to an opinion from a judge calling the city’s regulations parking inadequate.  

‘Not a comprehensive strategy’ 
ADUs might be a housing option for GC residents as the city continues to grow denser, but it probably won’t solve the area’s demand for affordable housing. 

Mayor John Evans said the goal for the ordinance was to open up more diversity of housing types in the city and give property owners with larger lots options to house family members or make rental income. But, he acknowledged that in a landlocked, highly developed community like Garden City there are not many lots with enough room for an ADU that aren’t in an HOA. 

“It’s not a comprehensive strategy,” he said. “There just isn’t enough locations they could be placed to make a significant dent in the affordable housing discussion.”

City Council President James Page agreed. He said the idea behind the ordinance was to provide options for people to increase flexibility for housing on their properties. But because of the small spaces in ADUs, the difficulties with storage and how the more affordable materials sometimes used to build them can lead to deterioration, Page doesn’t think they should be the city’s move on affordable housing. 

“To me, an ADU seems like a temporary part of the puzzle,” he said. “I think these solutions are well-meaning and they help people in crisis, but I don’t think they’re a long-term solution to affordability.”

What about tiny homes on wheels?
At the same time, Garden City has been studying a proposal to allow tiny homes on wheels in Garden City from 2021 mayoral candidate Hannah Ball and Jones, the developer who sued the city over parking rules, for over a year. Tiny homes on wheels function differently than ADUs and can be moved by their owner somewhat akin to a mobile home, but aren’t as large and are cheaper to transport. 

The proposal has come before the council for deliberation and drafting several times, but a deal to pass it hasn’t been reached. Evans said the discussions with Ball and Jones have been “interesting,” but the ordinance isn’t high on his list of priorities right now as the city prepares for a series of contentious hearings on a proposal for dense housing at the River Club. 

Garden City expands ADU size, but tiny home on wheels talks still …  boisedev.com

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Montclair Council To Take Final Vote on Accessory Dwelling Units …

Montclair, NJ – Call it a place for Mom. Or a separate living space for a young adult son or daughter. Or an opportunity to offset Montclair taxes with some rental income. Tonight, Montclair Council will vote to finalize an Accessory Dwelling Unit ordinance.

Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs), also known as in-law suites, granny flats or guest houses, come in many shapes (apartments above garages or units that are free standing or attached to the main house on the property they share). A typical ADU is roughly 600 to 1,000 square feet, has a bathroom, a kitchen or kitchenette, and, usually, a separate entrance. These smaller units use less electricity and water and are considered more environmentally friendly because they are a low-impact solution to a need for more housing.

Accessory Dwelling Units. Photo:
Wikipedia Creative Commons: (Joiedevivre123321)

Some 1.4 million Americans have added ADUs to their single family homes. ADUs offer an affordable housing option that can keep families together, bridge the gap between when college students live at home before starting a career. They also afford an income stream to homeowners who want age in place by providing rental income. ADUs are also lauded for creating inclusive housing opportunities and more diversity in communities. In 2021, Maplewood and Princeton passed their new ADU ordinances. South Orange is also looking to approve a new ordinance that would allow residential property owners in the township to create ADUs.

Montclair Council can vote to adopt this Accessory Dwelling Unit Ordinance, a revised version with input from the Planning Board, that was passed on first reading in January.

Montclair Gateway Aging in Place board members Ann Lippel and Frank Millspaugh have been actively involved with Third Ward Councilor Lori Price Abrams to both educate the public and move the proposed ordinance forward. In May, MGAP held a virtual symposium, “ADU: What’s In It For You.”

ADUs are one of the efforts MGAP has supported to help make Montclair age friendlier (you can sign their petition here)

Click here to sign up for Baristanet’s free daily emails and news alerts.

Montclair, NJ – Call it a place for Mom. Or a separate living space for a young adult son or daughter. Or an opportunity to offset Montclair taxes with some rental income. Tonight, Montclair Council will vote to finalize an Accessory Dwelling Unit ordinance.

Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs), also known as in-law suites, granny flats or guest houses, come in many shapes (apartments above garages or units that are free standing or attached to the main house on the property they share). A typical ADU is roughly 600 to 1,000 square feet, has a bathroom, a kitchen or kitchenette, and, usually, a separate entrance. These smaller units use less electricity and water and are considered more environmentally friendly because they are a low-impact solution to a need for more housing.

Accessory Dwelling Units. Photo: Wikipedia Creative Commons: (Joiedevivre123321)Some 1.4 million Americans have added ADUs to their single family homes. ADUs offer an affordable housing option that can keep families together, bridge the gap between when college students live at home before starting a career. They also afford an income stream to homeowners who want age in place by providing rental income. ADUs are also lauded for creating inclusive housing opportunities and more diversity in communities. In 2021, Maplewood and Princeton passed their new ADU ordinances. South Orange is also looking to approve a new ordinance that would allow residential property owners in the township to create ADUs.

Montclair Council can vote to adopt this Accessory Dwelling Unit Ordinance, a revised version with input from the Planning Board, that was passed on first reading in January.

Montclair Gateway Aging in Place board members Ann Lippel and Frank Millspaugh have been actively involved with Third Ward Councilor Lori Price Abrams to both educate the public and move the proposed ordinance forward. In May, MGAP held a virtual symposium, “ADU: What’s In It For You.”

ADUs are one of the efforts MGAP has supported to help make Montclair age friendlier (you can sign their petition here)

Click here to sign up for Baristanet’s free daily emails and news alerts.

Montclair Council To Take Final Vote on Accessory Dwelling Units …  Baristanet

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Napa 10 Questions: O’Connell knows How to ADU

Meet Ryan O’Connell, the founder of How To ADU, and an advocate for more housing in California.

O’Connell moved to Napa in 2012 to start nakedwines.com. The business funds winemakers around the country and around the world.

In traveling all over California’s wine regions, O’Connell recalled how he met many vineyard workers, winery teams, and hospitality staff that could not afford to live in the regions where they work.

“There just isn’t enough housing,” he said.

Falling back on his political science background (he earned a B.A. at Tulane University), O’Connell set out to explain Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) to California homeowners.

His goal? “To create simple ways for homeowners to reduce California’s housing shortage, in a way that benefits them and their communities.”

Support local news coverage and the people who report it by subscribing to the Napa Valley Register. 

1. What was your childhood ambition?

I used to tell my parents that I wanted to be the President! But when I was 8, I saw Bill Clinton on TV and told my mom I didn’t want to be President anymore. She asked “why not?” and I said Clinton got a lot of gray hair in his first year.

2. What job would you like to try/not try?

Try: Generative AI (artificial intelligence) is so fascinating right now – I’d like to learn how to harness that power for good. I’ve heard that prompting AI will be an entire career one day, like learning how to use a printing press or code software.

Not try: I have so much respect for school teachers and, while I do a lot of educational content, I couldn’t imagine the responsibility of doing that in person and being responsible for a big group of young people.

3. How did you get into the housing industry?

I left my dream career in the wine world in the middle of a global pandemic to make a difference in the housing shortage.

When I launched How To ADU’s YouTube channel and Facebook group, I barely had three subscribers: me, my wife, and my mom!

Fast forward three years and we now have the largest online community of homeowners in California with over 20,000 members of our Facebook group, 54,000 followers on TikTok and 9,000 subscribers on YouTube.

It turns out that people really need information about these new laws and how they can use them to change their lives!

4. What is the biggest challenge your business/industry has faced?

Education and communication are the biggest challenges in the ADU space.

The state passes new zoning laws almost every year, and then each city and county have local staff and nonprofits all working individually on separate programs, ordinances, and more.

While we optimistically call this patchwork process something like the “laboratories of democracy” it ends up with a very fragmented system that varies from one zip code to another.

We are lucky that in Napa we have great programs at the county and city level, nonprofits like the Napa Sonoma ADU Center, and private sector innovation like Redwood Credit Union’s incredible ADU construction loan. So the challenge here is exporting those successful programs to other parts of the state.

5. What’s one thing Napa could do to help local business?

We need to build more housing so that the people who work in Napa can afford to live in Napa.

We benefit from a strong economy and provide a lot of work opportunities in our community, but we do not provide enough housing at different sizes, and levels of affordability.

If you’re a resident of Napa, or work or play here, I hope that you’ll support more housing being built so we can keep our community vibrant and healthy.

6. If you could change one thing about the housing industry, what would it be?

I hope that we all learn to work together to build great communities. Too often, I see arguments between groups of people who should be natural allies.

For example, pro-housing developers, tenant protection organizations, environmentalists, and labor activists may all take different “sides” of a debate. But there are good, smart ways to build that make our communities stronger and serve all of us well.

7. What’s your favorite gift to give?

My go-to is old bottles of wine that I made back in the day. That has to be the least original answer, but it’s the truth. I love sharing wine with people, and sharing a story about the bottle.

8. What’s your favorite charity or nonprofit?

The Napa Sonoma ADU Center and the Napa Valley Community Foundation. Honestly, I am very lucky to be based in a place that takes housing so seriously and has devoted so much talent and so many resources to housing.

9. What’s something people might be surprised to know about you?

I tried to buy a Swedish porcelain factory on vacation once.

10. What is one thing you hope to accomplish in your lifetime that you haven’t yet?

I want to help California reach its goal of building 180,000 units of housing a year.

When I first said that, my wife suggested “maybe start with one.”

Home movies that included this 1962 film taken at Disneyland were recently digitized by Napa’s Closs family. The family has owned and run Buttercream Bakery for many years. Disneyland opened in 1955. 


Closs family

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Meet Ryan O’Connell, the founder of How To ADU, and an advocate for more housing in California.
O’Connell moved to Napa in 2012 to start nakedwines.com. The business funds winemakers around the country and around the world.
In traveling all over California’s wine regions, O’Connell recalled how he met many vineyard workers, winery teams, and hospitality staff that could not afford to live in the regions where they work.
“There just isn’t enough housing,” he said.
Falling back on his political science background (he earned a B.A. at Tulane University), O’Connell set out to explain Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) to California homeowners.
His goal? “To create simple ways for homeowners to reduce California’s housing shortage, in a way that benefits them and their communities.”

Support local news coverage and the people who report it by subscribing to the Napa Valley Register. 

1. What was your childhood ambition?
I used to tell my parents that I wanted to be the President! But when I was 8, I saw Bill Clinton on TV and told my mom I didn’t want to be President anymore. She asked “why not?” and I said Clinton got a lot of gray hair in his first year.
2. What job would you like to try/not try?
Try: Generative AI (artificial intelligence) is so fascinating right now – I’d like to learn how to harness that power for good. I’ve heard that prompting AI will be an entire career one day, like learning how to use a printing press or code software.
Not try: I have so much respect for school teachers and, while I do a lot of educational content, I couldn’t imagine the responsibility of doing that in person and being responsible for a big group of young people.
3. How did you get into the housing industry?
I left my dream career in the wine world in the middle of a global pandemic to make a difference in the housing shortage.
When I launched How To ADU’s YouTube channel and Facebook group, I barely had three subscribers: me, my wife, and my mom!
Fast forward three years and we now have the largest online community of homeowners in California with over 20,000 members of our Facebook group, 54,000 followers on TikTok and 9,000 subscribers on YouTube.
It turns out that people really need information about these new laws and how they can use them to change their lives!
4. What is the biggest challenge your business/industry has faced?
Education and communication are the biggest challenges in the ADU space.
The state passes new zoning laws almost every year, and then each city and county have local staff and nonprofits all working individually on separate programs, ordinances, and more.
While we optimistically call this patchwork process something like the “laboratories of democracy” it ends up with a very fragmented system that varies from one zip code to another.
We are lucky that in Napa we have great programs at the county and city level, nonprofits like the Napa Sonoma ADU Center, and private sector innovation like Redwood Credit Union’s incredible ADU construction loan. So the challenge here is exporting those successful programs to other parts of the state.
5. What’s one thing Napa could do to help local business?
We need to build more housing so that the people who work in Napa can afford to live in Napa.
We benefit from a strong economy and provide a lot of work opportunities in our community, but we do not provide enough housing at different sizes, and levels of affordability.
If you’re a resident of Napa, or work or play here, I hope that you’ll support more housing being built so we can keep our community vibrant and healthy.
6. If you could change one thing about the housing industry, what would it be?
I hope that we all learn to work together to build great communities. Too often, I see arguments between groups of people who should be natural allies.
For example, pro-housing developers, tenant protection organizations, environmentalists, and labor activists may all take different “sides” of a debate. But there are good, smart ways to build that make our communities stronger and serve all of us well.
7. What’s your favorite gift to give?
My go-to is old bottles of wine that I made back in the day. That has to be the least original answer, but it’s the truth. I love sharing wine with people, and sharing a story about the bottle.
8. What’s your favorite charity or nonprofit?
The Napa Sonoma ADU Center and the Napa Valley Community Foundation. Honestly, I am very lucky to be based in a place that takes housing so seriously and has devoted so much talent and so many resources to housing.
9. What’s something people might be surprised to know about you?
I tried to buy a Swedish porcelain factory on vacation once.
10. What is one thing you hope to accomplish in your lifetime that you haven’t yet?
I want to help California reach its goal of building 180,000 units of housing a year.
When I first said that, my wife suggested “maybe start with one.”

Home movies that included this 1962 film taken at Disneyland were recently digitized by Napa’s Closs family. The family has owned and run Buttercream Bakery for many years. Disneyland opened in 1955. 

Closs family

Photos: Check out Napa County’s LEAST expensive home sold in January

23 Lena Drive, American Canyon.

This American Canyon home was the least expensive home sold in Napa County in January. It sold for $515,000. The home is located at 23 Lena Drive.
Source: AJ Hearn, Realty One Group Fox

Dave Horn Unlimited Real Estate Photography

23 Lena Drive, American Canyon

This American Canyon home was the least expensive home sold in Napa County in January. It sold for $515,000. The home is located at 23 Lena Drive.
Source: AJ Hearn, Realty One Group Fox

Dave Horn Unlimited Real Estate Photography

23 Lena Drive, American Canyon.

This American Canyon home was the least expensive home sold in Napa County in January. It sold for $515,000. The home is located at 23 Lena Drive.
Source: AJ Hearn, Realty One Group Fox

Dave Horn Unlimited Real Estate Photography

23 Lena Drive, American Canyon.

This American Canyon home was the least expensive home sold in Napa County in January. It sold for $515,000. The home is located at 23 Lena Drive.
Source: AJ Hearn, Realty One Group Fox

Dave Horn Unlimited Real Estate Photography

23 Lena Drive, American Canyon.

This American Canyon home was the least expensive home sold in Napa County in January. It sold for $515,000. The home is located at 23 Lena Drive.
Source: AJ Hearn, Realty One Group Fox

Dave Horn Unlimited Real Estate Photography

23 Lena Drive, American Canyon.

This American Canyon home was the least expensive home sold in Napa County in January. It sold for $515,000. The home is located at 23 Lena Drive.
Source: AJ Hearn, Realty One Group Fox

Dave Horn Unlimited Real Estate Photography

23 Lena Drive, American Canyon.

This American Canyon home was the least expensive home sold in Napa County in January. It sold for $515,000. The home is located at 23 Lena Drive.
Source: AJ Hearn, Realty One Group Fox

Dave Horn Unlimited Real Estate Photography

23 Lena Drive, American Canyon.

This American Canyon home was the least expensive home sold in Napa County in January. It sold for $515,000. The home is located at 23 Lena Drive.
Source: AJ Hearn, Realty One Group Fox

Dave Horn Unlimited Real Estate Photography

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Napa 10 Questions: O’Connell knows How to ADU  Napa Valley Register

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$2 million grant could ready accessory dwelling units for rentals …

(Credit: Courtesy photo)

Thanks to a partnership between Shelter Island Town and the nonprofit Community Development Corporation of Long Island, up to $2 million could be spent over a two-year period in grants to property owners to create affordable accessory dwelling units (ADUs) on their properties.

Chairwoman Elizabeth Hanley of the Community Housing Board announced the grant Feb. 9.

Community Development Corporation (CDC) President and Chief Executive Officer Gwen O’Shea submitted the application and the Island is one of the municipalities that will  benefit from a $2 million grant.

“You really have been the driving force,” Supervisor Gerry Siller said to Ms. Hanley.

Grants of up to $125,000 are available to qualifying low and moderate income homeowners to bring the properties up to local and State codes and retrofit them to accommodate renters. Those who qualify for the grants will either add an ADU to their property, or make capital improvements to an existing ADU.

The CDC will work with the Town to coordinate the program, which will be managed by the CDC.

Property owners who want to participate in the program would have to apply for grants administered by the CDC,  Ms. Hanley said.

Homeowners who opt to take advantage of a grant have to agree to provide the rental at an affordable rate set by the federal department of Housing and Urban Development. Rentals would be available to those who meet income levels set for Suffolk County.  Occupants must be annually certified to ensure they continue to qualify for an affordable rental, Ms. Hanley said.

In addition, it’s possible a homeowner could apply for grant money from State, County and/or local municipalities if they need to updgrade their septic systems to state-of-the-art nitrogen-reducing systems.

(Credit: Courtesy photo)

Thanks to a partnership between Shelter Island Town and the nonprofit Community Development Corporation of Long Island, up to $2 million could be spent over a two-year period in grants to property owners to create affordable accessory dwelling units (ADUs) on their properties.

Chairwoman Elizabeth Hanley of the Community Housing Board announced the grant Feb. 9.

Community Development Corporation (CDC) President and Chief Executive Officer Gwen O’Shea submitted the application and the Island is one of the municipalities that will  benefit from a $2 million grant.

“You really have been the driving force,” Supervisor Gerry Siller said to Ms. Hanley.

Grants of up to $125,000 are available to qualifying low and moderate income homeowners to bring the properties up to local and State codes and retrofit them to accommodate renters. Those who qualify for the grants will either add an ADU to their property, or make capital improvements to an existing ADU.

The CDC will work with the Town to coordinate the program, which will be managed by the CDC.

Property owners who want to participate in the program would have to apply for grants administered by the CDC,  Ms. Hanley said.

Homeowners who opt to take advantage of a grant have to agree to provide the rental at an affordable rate set by the federal department of Housing and Urban Development. Rentals would be available to those who meet income levels set for Suffolk County.  Occupants must be annually certified to ensure they continue to qualify for an affordable rental, Ms. Hanley said.

In addition, it’s possible a homeowner could apply for grant money from State, County and/or local municipalities if they need to updgrade their septic systems to state-of-the-art nitrogen-reducing systems.

$2 million grant could ready accessory dwelling units for rentals …  Shelter Island Reporter

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State, Bellingham on separate tracks to ease ADU rules

While Bellingham leaders consider loosening rules for accessory dwelling units, or ADUs, a state senator from Bellingham is pushing a bill that would go even further to encourage the construction of backyard cottages on the same lot as single-family homes.

Sen. Sharon Shewmake is the lead sponsor of what is essentially the same legislation she championed in the House a year ago. Senate Bill 5235 would require all but a handful of rural counties in the state to allow at least two ADUs on most urban residential lots. 

Bellingham has allowed ADUs — either attached to the main residence or detached — everywhere except the Lake Whatcom watershed since 2018. But Shewmake’s bill has provisions that are still the subject of spirited debate in Bellingham, or appear to be rejected altogether.

SB 5235 would allow absentee homeowners to build ADUs, effectively doubling or tripling the number of units they could rent on their property. Since January, the Bellingham City Council has been debating the same point: whether to waive a 2018 rule requiring the owner to live on the property if they build an ADU.

At a Feb. 13 meeting of the council Planning Committee, council members signaled they would reject that recommendation and keep the owner-occupancy requirement.

The committee, consisting of three of the seven council members, voted unanimously to maintain owner occupancy on properties with ADUs. This was an advisory vote; a final council decision on the new ADU rules isn’t expected for another month or two at least.

Planning committee member Dan Hammill said during the meeting that he had a change of heart about the owner-occupancy rule. Supporters of the rule have said it would prevent investors from buying up houses as rental properties, further shutting out home buyers in an already overheated real estate market.

“I didn’t really believe that there would be a land run on single-family homes and ADUs by investors and developers,” Hammill said, “but … we are seeing that in other states, like California.”

Shewmake, an economics professor at Western Washington University, said arguments claiming investors would buy up Bellingham’s housing stock “don’t make sense from an economic perspective.”

“Ferndale is not experiencing that at all,” Shewmake said. “If anything, Ferndale went farther than Bellingham has” in relaxing ADU regulations.

Ferndale does not require an ADU owner to live on-site but still isn’t receiving as many ADU applications as it would like, Shewmake said. On Feb. 15, Ferndale announced a promotion giving away Metallica-themed T-shirts to the first 10 people who build an ADU on their property.

“Building an ADU is great for Ferndale,” Mayor Greg Hansen said in a news release about the free T-shirts. “It adds to our housing supply, provides opportunities for rentals or aging in place, and utilizes existing city infrastructure.”

“I think Bellingham should be doing this,” Shewmake said — encouraging ADU construction, that is, not giving away T-shirts. “I think they should be bold in doing away with owner occupancy because we’re in a housing crisis.”

Shewmake’s bill also would allow property owners to sell their ADU outright to a prospective homebuyer — what’s being referred to in unwieldy terms as the “condominiumization” of ADUs. The Bellingham City Council hasn’t even begun discussing that option yet.

While a debate persists in Bellingham over whether ADUs are affordable housing or yet another profit opportunity for investors, in any case they are a small piece of the overall housing puzzle. The city has received about 50 building applications for ADUs per year since relaxing its rules in 2018. Over that same period, it has been processing building permits for 700 to 800 units in multifamily dwellings annually.

Given the small role ADUs play in Bellingham’s housing picture, Hammill questioned whether long deliberations over ADU rules were a good use of council’s time. 

“I think spending this amount of time on something that is very, very low impact, and will never be approaching the impact of multifamily or single-family permits to me is just — it’s not quite a fool’s errand, but it sure seems to look like that on the surface,” Hammill said.

In any case, all of the Bellingham council’s work to adopt new ADU rules could be swept away by Shewmake’s bill or separate ADU legislation, the bipartisan House Bill 1337, if either becomes law.

In fact, ADUs are a small piece of what some state lawmakers are trying to do to bring more density to residential neighborhoods. House Bill 1110, which also has bipartisan sponsorship, would effectively eliminate single-family zoning by allowing four- and six-plexes on lots originally intended for one home.

But Shewmake said both ADU bills currently churning through legislative committees remain important. She asserted that encouraging ADUs benefits individual homeowners more than real estate investors.

“I’m not going to build a 50-unit complex,” Shewmake said. “But I could scratch together enough savings to build an ADU and have an impact on my community that’s otherwise left to the big developers.”

While Bellingham leaders consider loosening rules for accessory dwelling units, or ADUs, a state senator from Bellingham is pushing a bill that would go even further to encourage the construction of backyard cottages on the same lot as single-family homes.
Sen. Sharon Shewmake is the lead sponsor of what is essentially the same legislation she championed in the House a year ago. Senate Bill 5235 would require all but a handful of rural counties in the state to allow at least two ADUs on most urban residential lots. 
Bellingham has allowed ADUs — either attached to the main residence or detached — everywhere except the Lake Whatcom watershed since 2018. But Shewmake’s bill has provisions that are still the subject of spirited debate in Bellingham, or appear to be rejected altogether.
SB 5235 would allow absentee homeowners to build ADUs, effectively doubling or tripling the number of units they could rent on their property. Since January, the Bellingham City Council has been debating the same point: whether to waive a 2018 rule requiring the owner to live on the property if they build an ADU.
At a Feb. 13 meeting of the council Planning Committee, council members signaled they would reject that recommendation and keep the owner-occupancy requirement.
The committee, consisting of three of the seven council members, voted unanimously to maintain owner occupancy on properties with ADUs. This was an advisory vote; a final council decision on the new ADU rules isn’t expected for another month or two at least.
Planning committee member Dan Hammill said during the meeting that he had a change of heart about the owner-occupancy rule. Supporters of the rule have said it would prevent investors from buying up houses as rental properties, further shutting out home buyers in an already overheated real estate market.
“I didn’t really believe that there would be a land run on single-family homes and ADUs by investors and developers,” Hammill said, “but … we are seeing that in other states, like California.”
Shewmake, an economics professor at Western Washington University, said arguments claiming investors would buy up Bellingham’s housing stock “don’t make sense from an economic perspective.”
“Ferndale is not experiencing that at all,” Shewmake said. “If anything, Ferndale went farther than Bellingham has” in relaxing ADU regulations.
Ferndale does not require an ADU owner to live on-site but still isn’t receiving as many ADU applications as it would like, Shewmake said. On Feb. 15, Ferndale announced a promotion giving away Metallica-themed T-shirts to the first 10 people who build an ADU on their property.
“Building an ADU is great for Ferndale,” Mayor Greg Hansen said in a news release about the free T-shirts. “It adds to our housing supply, provides opportunities for rentals or aging in place, and utilizes existing city infrastructure.”
“I think Bellingham should be doing this,” Shewmake said — encouraging ADU construction, that is, not giving away T-shirts. “I think they should be bold in doing away with owner occupancy because we’re in a housing crisis.”
Shewmake’s bill also would allow property owners to sell their ADU outright to a prospective homebuyer — what’s being referred to in unwieldy terms as the “condominiumization” of ADUs. The Bellingham City Council hasn’t even begun discussing that option yet.
While a debate persists in Bellingham over whether ADUs are affordable housing or yet another profit opportunity for investors, in any case they are a small piece of the overall housing puzzle. The city has received about 50 building applications for ADUs per year since relaxing its rules in 2018. Over that same period, it has been processing building permits for 700 to 800 units in multifamily dwellings annually.
Given the small role ADUs play in Bellingham’s housing picture, Hammill questioned whether long deliberations over ADU rules were a good use of council’s time. 
“I think spending this amount of time on something that is very, very low impact, and will never be approaching the impact of multifamily or single-family permits to me is just — it’s not quite a fool’s errand, but it sure seems to look like that on the surface,” Hammill said.
In any case, all of the Bellingham council’s work to adopt new ADU rules could be swept away by Shewmake’s bill or separate ADU legislation, the bipartisan House Bill 1337, if either becomes law.
In fact, ADUs are a small piece of what some state lawmakers are trying to do to bring more density to residential neighborhoods. House Bill 1110, which also has bipartisan sponsorship, would effectively eliminate single-family zoning by allowing four- and six-plexes on lots originally intended for one home.
But Shewmake said both ADU bills currently churning through legislative committees remain important. She asserted that encouraging ADUs benefits individual homeowners more than real estate investors.
“I’m not going to build a 50-unit complex,” Shewmake said. “But I could scratch together enough savings to build an ADU and have an impact on my community that’s otherwise left to the big developers.”

State, Bellingham on separate tracks to ease ADU rules  Cascadia Daily News

Read More...

Could more granny flats and backyard cottages be a solution to Salt …

Opening another line of attack on its affordable housing crisis, Salt Lake City plans to wipe away current rules on new accessory dwelling units in favor of a more streamlined design and approval process.

State law already allows ADUs inside single-family homes without city review, but a series of reforms afoot in Utah’s capital would lower barriers for property owners who want to add detached dwellings such as backyard cottages and granny flats.

Under the changes vetted at City Hall for almost a year, building add-on homes would be permitted automatically instead of requiring a public hearing before the city’s planning commission and months of delay. Where ADUs are allowed also would greatly expand under the proposed ordinance, which is heading to its first public airing in early February.

(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune)
One of Modal Living’s “small but smart” detached accessory dwelling units (ADUs) on display at City Creek Center in Salt Lake City in 2019.

Mayor Erin Mendenhall and City Council members are voicing support for more ADUs as the changes take shape, highlighting accessory dwellings as a valuable way to entice more affordable homebuilding and add crucial variety to the city’s depleted housing stock.

But the idea of lowering barriers and allowing new living units in more neighborhoods isn’t as simple as it might seem, especially in light of concerns from residents.

Major differences are already surfacing among council members over the proposal’s relaxed parking requirements per unit and mandates that new dwellings be owner-occupied and barred from use as short-term rentals.

Council member Chris Wharton even described himself as “an evangelist” for using ADUs as a tool to address the present housing shortage, but he warned of potential parking snarls in denser neighborhoods such as the Avenues, Marmalade and Guadalupe without tweaks to the proposed ordinance.

“I can’t support it,” Wharton told recently colleagues, “if it doesn’t have more consideration for those areas.”

‘No actual reason’ for current city approach

(Salt Lake City Planning) Accessory dwelling units would be permitted in a much larger area of Salt Lake City, under a proposed ordinance scheduled for a Feb. 7, 2023, public hearing before the City Council.

The city loosened its zoning to allow ADUs for the first time in late 2018, but applications under that conditional use process have been notably underwhelming, averaging 25 to 32 permit requests a year.

City Hall approval usually takes three to six months and processing costs are an obstacle, according to city Planning Director Nick Norris. None of the ADU requests in the past four years has been rejected, and it’s rare that plans are altered significantly as a result of city review.

“There really is no actual reason to have a conditional use process,” Norris said. “There’s just not detrimental impacts that have been identified that haven’t been addressed by the standards in our code.”

Planning commission members petitioned for the latest ordinance overhaul last February, he noted, after years of watching their meeting agendas fill up with ADU applications.

So the newly proposed rules would make accessory dwellings a go-ahead use on six types of residential lots previously set aside, including properties spread over the city’s foothills and larger-lot single-family properties across Sugar House, Central City, the Avenues, Capitol Hill and elsewhere.

Add-on dwellings would also be permitted in nonresidential areas and commercial zones not used for manufacturing. That includes lots across the downtown core, those located near mass transit stations and properties where duplexes or larger multifamily buildings are already allowed.

The new approach would also be more permissive on the size, height and bulk of detached ADUs. It would ease required setbacks from adjacent yards and include provisions intended to activate nearby alleyways with pedestrian pathways and exterior lighting.

ADUs can be bigger, taller and in more places

In residential areas, the draft rules say an ADU could be 17 feet tall or up to 24 feet with added setbacks, but a unit’s height no longer would be limited by the height of the main residence.

ADUs could be up to 1,000 square feet in size, with that cap sliding up to 1,200 square feet on residential lots that span 12,000 square feet and those located in nonresidential zoning districts. Planning commissioners suggested boosting maximum ADU size in September from 720 square feet to 1,000 square feet — in hopes, they said, of making it more feasible to build family-sized units.

But council member Dan Dugan, whose district includes many east-bench neighborhoods, said he was not in favor of allowing ADUs that large, while fellow council member Alejandro Puy, who represents the west side’s Glendale, Poplar Grove and Fairpark areas, countered that he didn’t “have any concern with that size or going higher.”

(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) Two homes at The Pines in Midvale, as seen in December 2021. The small Ivory Homes development includes prebuilt accessory dwelling units (ADUs) in each of the homes.

Dugan also raised worries over relaxing rules for off-street parking in some older residential neighborhoods, where homes are often built on smaller streets and lack driveways and garages, leaving them vulnerable to bottlenecks when parking is heavy.

“We’re causing more problems than good,” Dugan said, “by not requiring an off-street parking location.”

The proposed ordinance does require one off-street parking stall per ADU, but it makes many exceptions, including when street parking is available in front of the property or if it is located within a quarter-mile of a transit stop or a half-mile from a designated bike lane.

Other council members, meanwhile, worried some of the parking concessions didn’t go far enough. “Parking stresses a lot of neighbors, I understand that,” Puy said, “but I think we need to go bold on this.”

Will the city keep some ADU review?

Even more basic pieces of the proposed ADU rules are also in debate — and that’s before property owners and the public have weighed in, with a first hearing now scheduled for Feb. 7.

Darin Mano, new council chairman this year, is opposed to requirements that ADUs be occupied by the property owner when the units are built in residential areas. (That doesn’t apply to ADUs in commercial zones.)

The Salt Lake City Council. Top row, from left: Ana Valdemoros; Amy Fowler; and Alejandro Puy. Center: Darin Mano. Bottom row, from left: Chris Wharton; Dan Dugan; and Victoria Petro-Eschler.

“That’s a pretty significant disincentive to building these,” Mano told the council, calling it “the biggest barrier to this helping our housing stock. . . . That means you can either never move, or when you do, you must sell the property.”

Puy agreed, but said his bigger fear was that large numbers of ADUs permitted under a new ordinance would be turned into short-term rentals on online sites such as Airbnb. Other parts of city code forbid short-term rentals, but state law leaves Utah cities with relatively few powers to enforce such bans — and the capital city has hundreds of them.

“We have zero tools right now to enforce our laws, and I will be scared of opening that door,” Puy said, “because without them, this is an incentive to turn the city into ‘short-term rental central.’”

Wharton called yanking the owner-occupied rule “just a nonstarter,” saying it would only worsen problems with absentee landlords “not being responsive to residents as they continue to collect higher rents while providing fewer services and less upkeep.”

Mano responded that with rest of the council against removing owner occupancy, he wouldn’t hold up the ordinance over his own opposition to that part.

Wharton, with support from colleague Amy Fowler, said the city might want to retain some kind of review for each ADU application, although Norris, the city planning director, said that probably would be “a morale killer” for the planning commission.

Residents who were reluctant four years ago to welcome ADUs were reassured at the time, Wharton contended, by the idea that conditional use hearings would take into account their concerns. “We need to give voice to that part as well,” said Wharton, “and the fact that public and neighborhood support for ADUs is critical to their success in Salt Lake City.”

But he, too, said his concerns weren’t worth “drawing a line in the sand” against approving the proposed ordinance as a whole. “I just don’t want to lose people and support of ADUs,” Wharton said, “because of what we’re doing.”

Opening another line of attack on its affordable housing crisis, Salt Lake City plans to wipe away current rules on new accessory dwelling units in favor of a more streamlined design and approval process.
State law already allows ADUs inside single-family homes without city review, but a series of reforms afoot in Utah’s capital would lower barriers for property owners who want to add detached dwellings such as backyard cottages and granny flats.
Under the changes vetted at City Hall for almost a year, building add-on homes would be permitted automatically instead of requiring a public hearing before the city’s planning commission and months of delay. Where ADUs are allowed also would greatly expand under the proposed ordinance, which is heading to its first public airing in early February.

(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune)
One of Modal Living’s “small but smart” detached accessory dwelling units (ADUs) on display at City Creek Center in Salt Lake City in 2019.
Mayor Erin Mendenhall and City Council members are voicing support for more ADUs as the changes take shape, highlighting accessory dwellings as a valuable way to entice more affordable homebuilding and add crucial variety to the city’s depleted housing stock.
But the idea of lowering barriers and allowing new living units in more neighborhoods isn’t as simple as it might seem, especially in light of concerns from residents.
Major differences are already surfacing among council members over the proposal’s relaxed parking requirements per unit and mandates that new dwellings be owner-occupied and barred from use as short-term rentals.
Council member Chris Wharton even described himself as “an evangelist” for using ADUs as a tool to address the present housing shortage, but he warned of potential parking snarls in denser neighborhoods such as the Avenues, Marmalade and Guadalupe without tweaks to the proposed ordinance.
“I can’t support it,” Wharton told recently colleagues, “if it doesn’t have more consideration for those areas.”
‘No actual reason’ for current city approach
(Salt Lake City Planning) Accessory dwelling units would be permitted in a much larger area of Salt Lake City, under a proposed ordinance scheduled for a Feb. 7, 2023, public hearing before the City Council.
The city loosened its zoning to allow ADUs for the first time in late 2018, but applications under that conditional use process have been notably underwhelming, averaging 25 to 32 permit requests a year.
City Hall approval usually takes three to six months and processing costs are an obstacle, according to city Planning Director Nick Norris. None of the ADU requests in the past four years has been rejected, and it’s rare that plans are altered significantly as a result of city review.
“There really is no actual reason to have a conditional use process,” Norris said. “There’s just not detrimental impacts that have been identified that haven’t been addressed by the standards in our code.”
Planning commission members petitioned for the latest ordinance overhaul last February, he noted, after years of watching their meeting agendas fill up with ADU applications.
So the newly proposed rules would make accessory dwellings a go-ahead use on six types of residential lots previously set aside, including properties spread over the city’s foothills and larger-lot single-family properties across Sugar House, Central City, the Avenues, Capitol Hill and elsewhere.
Add-on dwellings would also be permitted in nonresidential areas and commercial zones not used for manufacturing. That includes lots across the downtown core, those located near mass transit stations and properties where duplexes or larger multifamily buildings are already allowed.
The new approach would also be more permissive on the size, height and bulk of detached ADUs. It would ease required setbacks from adjacent yards and include provisions intended to activate nearby alleyways with pedestrian pathways and exterior lighting.
ADUs can be bigger, taller and in more placesIn residential areas, the draft rules say an ADU could be 17 feet tall or up to 24 feet with added setbacks, but a unit’s height no longer would be limited by the height of the main residence.
ADUs could be up to 1,000 square feet in size, with that cap sliding up to 1,200 square feet on residential lots that span 12,000 square feet and those located in nonresidential zoning districts. Planning commissioners suggested boosting maximum ADU size in September from 720 square feet to 1,000 square feet — in hopes, they said, of making it more feasible to build family-sized units.
But council member Dan Dugan, whose district includes many east-bench neighborhoods, said he was not in favor of allowing ADUs that large, while fellow council member Alejandro Puy, who represents the west side’s Glendale, Poplar Grove and Fairpark areas, countered that he didn’t “have any concern with that size or going higher.”

(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) Two homes at The Pines in Midvale, as seen in December 2021. The small Ivory Homes development includes prebuilt accessory dwelling units (ADUs) in each of the homes.
Dugan also raised worries over relaxing rules for off-street parking in some older residential neighborhoods, where homes are often built on smaller streets and lack driveways and garages, leaving them vulnerable to bottlenecks when parking is heavy.
“We’re causing more problems than good,” Dugan said, “by not requiring an off-street parking location.”
The proposed ordinance does require one off-street parking stall per ADU, but it makes many exceptions, including when street parking is available in front of the property or if it is located within a quarter-mile of a transit stop or a half-mile from a designated bike lane.
Other council members, meanwhile, worried some of the parking concessions didn’t go far enough. “Parking stresses a lot of neighbors, I understand that,” Puy said, “but I think we need to go bold on this.”
Will the city keep some ADU review?Even more basic pieces of the proposed ADU rules are also in debate — and that’s before property owners and the public have weighed in, with a first hearing now scheduled for Feb. 7.
Darin Mano, new council chairman this year, is opposed to requirements that ADUs be occupied by the property owner when the units are built in residential areas. (That doesn’t apply to ADUs in commercial zones.)

The Salt Lake City Council. Top row, from left: Ana Valdemoros; Amy Fowler; and Alejandro Puy. Center: Darin Mano. Bottom row, from left: Chris Wharton; Dan Dugan; and Victoria Petro-Eschler.
“That’s a pretty significant disincentive to building these,” Mano told the council, calling it “the biggest barrier to this helping our housing stock. . . . That means you can either never move, or when you do, you must sell the property.”
Puy agreed, but said his bigger fear was that large numbers of ADUs permitted under a new ordinance would be turned into short-term rentals on online sites such as Airbnb. Other parts of city code forbid short-term rentals, but state law leaves Utah cities with relatively few powers to enforce such bans — and the capital city has hundreds of them.
“We have zero tools right now to enforce our laws, and I will be scared of opening that door,” Puy said, “because without them, this is an incentive to turn the city into ‘short-term rental central.’”
Wharton called yanking the owner-occupied rule “just a nonstarter,” saying it would only worsen problems with absentee landlords “not being responsive to residents as they continue to collect higher rents while providing fewer services and less upkeep.”
Mano responded that with rest of the council against removing owner occupancy, he wouldn’t hold up the ordinance over his own opposition to that part.
Wharton, with support from colleague Amy Fowler, said the city might want to retain some kind of review for each ADU application, although Norris, the city planning director, said that probably would be “a morale killer” for the planning commission.
Residents who were reluctant four years ago to welcome ADUs were reassured at the time, Wharton contended, by the idea that conditional use hearings would take into account their concerns. “We need to give voice to that part as well,” said Wharton, “and the fact that public and neighborhood support for ADUs is critical to their success in Salt Lake City.”
But he, too, said his concerns weren’t worth “drawing a line in the sand” against approving the proposed ordinance as a whole. “I just don’t want to lose people and support of ADUs,” Wharton said, “because of what we’re doing.”
Could more granny flats and backyard cottages be a solution to Salt …  Salt Lake Tribune

Read More...

Report: ADU expansion, tax relief among city’s options to promote …

Photo by The Lyda Hill Texas Collection of Photographs in Carol M. Highsmith’s America Project, Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division.

Report: ADU expansion, tax relief among city’s options to promote preservation

Friday, January 20, 2023 by

Chad Swiatecki

Preservation advocates want the city to simplify the process for building accessory dwelling units, and use an ombudsman position to help navigate city processes as some of the steps needed to save existing housing stock while helping to address affordability.

Those were some of the conclusions in a recent paper from Urban Land Institute Austin that looked at the programs and problems involved in the preservation movement while demand for local housing continues to surge.

The technical assistance report brought together more than 40 experts including city preservation staff, local business and property owners, planners and developers to make recommendations based on the findings that Austin loses its local character when long-standing homes are torn down.

The report also found demolition and new construction is often an easier and more lucrative option than preservation, noting: “At present, it is often an easier permitting path and more profitable for developers to tear down existing older homes, making way for new construction. The development process would benefit from the intentional alignment and comprehensive cooperation of the various city departments involved in preservation work, ensuring that the reviews and paperwork needed to support preservation efforts are as easy – if not easier – than demolition.”

The ability to create ADUs on the same property as a preservation-worthy home is seen as one of the best tools for the city to encourage owners to hold on to their homes while adding needed housing stock and possibly rental income to offset rising property taxes.

David Steinwedell, chair of the panel that wrote the report, said the city needs to improve and centralize more of its preservation tools involving maintenance assistance and tax relief to make them easier for non-developer owners to use.

“There are existing programs that are underutilized such as the repair program and homestead exemption. However, some existing options, such as ADUs are too complicated or expensive for many homeowners,” he wrote in an email after consulting with panel members.

“If the city grows relationships and trust with communities where displacement is occurring and provides an ombudsman as recommended in the report to help connect residents with programs or walk through complicated processes, that will help expand utilization of existing opportunities.”

Steinwedell’s group sees increased use of a community land trust as well as changes to homestead property tax exemptions as two possible remedies for property owners being priced out of their homes by rising property values. Further changes to assessment practices – including basing assessments on property rental income – would require the cooperation of Travis County and may be difficult to orchestrate.

Another problem the panel found was persistent distrust of the city by neighborhood groups throughout the area.

“A surprise was the lack of trust by residents and neighborhood groups in the city to fairly administer the programs. An often repeated fear was that using a city program would trigger inspections that would result in additional work being required that the resident didn’t have the funds to complete.”

Lindsey Derrington, executive director of Preservation Austin, said preservation of homes built before Austin became a boom town helps to keep longtime residents in the area while also creating options for first-time homebuyers who grew up here.

“(Preservation) has to be part of the equation for keeping longtime residents in place and giving first-time homebuyers more options for living in Austin’s central city neighborhoods,” she said. “Our Land Development Code, market forces and development processes make it easier to demolish existing and more affordable homes for newer, more expensive housing. We have to change this dynamic.”

Cara Bertron, a senior planner specializing in displacement prevention for the city, said redevelopment tends to result in denser clusters of homes unaffordable for most residents, while preservation and ADU expansion can help address the city’s affordability problem.

“It’s easy to overlook that many older houses are market-affordable now, so preserving them is an important part of a citywide affordability strategy. In terms of new construction, accessory dwelling units behind existing homes can help to create more affordable housing in the context of existing neighborhoods, especially with more technical and financial support for homeowners.”

Read the full report here:

Download (PDF, 14.27MB)

The Austin Monitor’s work is made possible by donations from the community. Though our reporting covers donors from time to time, we are careful to keep business and editorial efforts separate while maintaining transparency. A complete list of donors is available here, and our code of ethics is explained here.

Join Your Friends and Neighbors

We’re a nonprofit news organization, and we put our service to you above all else. That will never change. But public-service journalism requires community support from readers like you. Will you join your friends and neighbors to support our work and mission?

Photo by The Lyda Hill Texas Collection of Photographs in Carol M. Highsmith’s America Project, Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division.

Report: ADU expansion, tax relief among city’s options to promote preservation

Friday, January 20, 2023 by
Chad Swiatecki

Preservation advocates want the city to simplify the process for building accessory dwelling units, and use an ombudsman position to help navigate city processes as some of the steps needed to save existing housing stock while helping to address affordability.

Those were some of the conclusions in a recent paper from Urban Land Institute Austin that looked at the programs and problems involved in the preservation movement while demand for local housing continues to surge.

The technical assistance report brought together more than 40 experts including city preservation staff, local business and property owners, planners and developers to make recommendations based on the findings that Austin loses its local character when long-standing homes are torn down.

The report also found demolition and new construction is often an easier and more lucrative option than preservation, noting: “At present, it is often an easier permitting path and more profitable for developers to tear down existing older homes, making way for new construction. The development process would benefit from the intentional alignment and comprehensive cooperation of the various city departments involved in preservation work, ensuring that the reviews and paperwork needed to support preservation efforts are as easy – if not easier – than demolition.”

The ability to create ADUs on the same property as a preservation-worthy home is seen as one of the best tools for the city to encourage owners to hold on to their homes while adding needed housing stock and possibly rental income to offset rising property taxes.

David Steinwedell, chair of the panel that wrote the report, said the city needs to improve and centralize more of its preservation tools involving maintenance assistance and tax relief to make them easier for non-developer owners to use.

“There are existing programs that are underutilized such as the repair program and homestead exemption. However, some existing options, such as ADUs are too complicated or expensive for many homeowners,” he wrote in an email after consulting with panel members.

“If the city grows relationships and trust with communities where displacement is occurring and provides an ombudsman as recommended in the report to help connect residents with programs or walk through complicated processes, that will help expand utilization of existing opportunities.”

Steinwedell’s group sees increased use of a community land trust as well as changes to homestead property tax exemptions as two possible remedies for property owners being priced out of their homes by rising property values. Further changes to assessment practices – including basing assessments on property rental income – would require the cooperation of Travis County and may be difficult to orchestrate.

Another problem the panel found was persistent distrust of the city by neighborhood groups throughout the area.

“A surprise was the lack of trust by residents and neighborhood groups in the city to fairly administer the programs. An often repeated fear was that using a city program would trigger inspections that would result in additional work being required that the resident didn’t have the funds to complete.”

Lindsey Derrington, executive director of Preservation Austin, said preservation of homes built before Austin became a boom town helps to keep longtime residents in the area while also creating options for first-time homebuyers who grew up here.

“(Preservation) has to be part of the equation for keeping longtime residents in place and giving first-time homebuyers more options for living in Austin’s central city neighborhoods,” she said. “Our Land Development Code, market forces and development processes make it easier to demolish existing and more affordable homes for newer, more expensive housing. We have to change this dynamic.”

Cara Bertron, a senior planner specializing in displacement prevention for the city, said redevelopment tends to result in denser clusters of homes unaffordable for most residents, while preservation and ADU expansion can help address the city’s affordability problem.

“It’s easy to overlook that many older houses are market-affordable now, so preserving them is an important part of a citywide affordability strategy. In terms of new construction, accessory dwelling units behind existing homes can help to create more affordable housing in the context of existing neighborhoods, especially with more technical and financial support for homeowners.”

Read the full report here:

Download (PDF, 14.27MB)

The Austin Monitor’s work is made possible by donations from the community. Though our reporting covers donors from time to time, we are careful to keep business and editorial efforts separate while maintaining transparency. A complete list of donors is available here, and our code of ethics is explained here.

Join Your Friends and Neighbors
We’re a nonprofit news organization, and we put our service to you above all else. That will never change. But public-service journalism requires community support from readers like you. Will you join your friends and neighbors to support our work and mission?

Report: ADU expansion, tax relief among city’s options to promote …  Austin Monitor

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