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Suburbs Encouraging Accessory Dwelling Units

Renton, a suburb of Seattle dealing with skyrocketing housing prices like many of the communities in the region, is allowing new density in residential neighborhoods in the form of backyard cottages.
December 8, 2018, 11am PST | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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Josh Cohen reports on the example of Renton, Washington, which recently slashed permitting fees in the hopes of spurring new developments of accessory dwelling units (ADUs).

Cohen's coverage notes efforts in Portland, Vancouver, California, and Seattle to loosen restrictions on ADUs before turning the attention on suburbs faced with the same challenges of an abundance of single-family zoning and a dearth of affordable housing options.

Faced with its own need for middle-income or “workforce” housing, the Renton City Council voted in October 2017 to cut ADU permit fees in half. Based on the modest success of the program so far — over the past year there were five applications for new ADU permits versus five total between 2010 and 2017 — the city council voted in mid-November to extend the fee cuts [pdf] until the end of 2020.

Cohen adds more details about the changes:

The council resolution cuts construction permit and impact fees in half for all new ADUs. Doing so brings the permitting costs from about $22,000 per backyard cottage to $11,000. To encourage subdivision developers to include ADUs in their projects, the resolution waives all permit and impact fees for every third ADU built in a subdivision with 10 or more houses.

The article includes more details about the market and political contexts in the city of Renton, and reports some of the initial reactions to the fee reductions.

Full Story:
Published on Thursday, December 6, 2018 in Crosscut
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