Retrofitting Cities with Accessory Dwelling Units Is a Win-Win

Expensive West Coast cities are looking to these alternative and add-on structures to ease their housing challenges.
September 24, 2018, 1pm PDT | Camille Fink
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Haisten Willis reports on increased interest in accessory dwelling units (ADUs), especially in areas where housing prices have soared. “The West Coast has become a leader in both high housing costs and in ADU construction, with California and Oregon mandating that most cities must allow ADUs, leaving only limited power at the municipal level to legislate how the structures look and to whom they can be leased,” says Willis.

Easing regulations and, in the case of Portland, waiving development fees have helped address two of the major factors discouraging construction of ADUs. In cities advocating for ADUs, the outcomes are notable, says Willis:

San Francisco, for example, has more than 1,000 ADUs in the development pipeline, with officials looking to increase that number. Portland, Oregon, issued fewer than 100 ADU permits as recently as 2010. In 2016, the number surged past 600 permits in a single year and could soon surpass the number of new homes under construction.

In Sun Belt cities where housing prices have not peaked and denser East Coast cities, the future of ADUs is less clear. But in lower-density cities in the West facing rising housing costs, ADUs are an ideal alternative for homeowners to supplement their income and for renters to find more affordable housing.

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Published on Monday, September 17, 2018 in SF Gate
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