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Chicago Coach Houses, Legalize 'Em

Coach houses could provide affordable housing and revenue for home owners if they were more widely permitted in the city.
April 21, 2018, 11am PDT | Casey Brazeal | @northandclark
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Accessory Dwelling Unit
Daniel X. O'Neil

It's illegal to live in a coach houses in Chicago. Existing coach houses aren't illegal, but they cannot be built in most of the city and may not include a kitchen.

"A coach house is a typical kind of accessory dwelling unit (ADU) in Chicago that were built at the rear of lots. In the majority of cases, a principal use like a single-family house or 2-4 flat was built in the front of the lot," Steven Vance writes for Chicago Cityscape.

Couch houses could be an easy way to maintain the density of some shrinking neighborhoods, create affordable housing and provide income for property owners. But with the constraints currently put on them in Chicago they're unable to legally provide any of these functions. "In addition to banning new coach houses and non-paying guest houses, existing ones cannot be expanded and there’s a rule that can cause their disuse," Vance writes.

Changes to California zoning regulations have brought meant a big resurgence in the state's ADUs, Vance argues that Chicago should pursue the same strategy.

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Published on Thursday, April 19, 2018 in Chicago Cityscape
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