Lesson 2.1. – Issue Orientation

Congrats on being the local Issue Champion for Accessory Dwelling Units!  We’re so proud of you, but you are probably asking, “now what?” 

Before the city can implement policy related to ADU’s, an informal discussion needs to take place among the elected policymakers (City Councilmembers). They need to be able to easily compare what is currently enacted in the municipality’s code against the CiviclinQ Guide’s recommendations in order to understand their options. 

In order to do this, you will need to be able to guide the discussion and answer basic questions.  Be sure that you are familiar with the following key points:

  •  When crafting your local ordinance, it should be noted that ADUs can either be allowed as a permitted use (use by right), or as a conditional use (allowed only by the approval of a  conditional use permit) within a specific zoning district.  Regardless of if the use is deemed permitted or conditional, the ordinance should specify exactly how the ADU is to be developed (i.e. location, access, setbacks, separation from existing structures, size, building aesthetics, required parking, etc.)  This helps to ensure each ADU is reviewed and developed consistently pursuant to the community’s vision
  • Consider requiring additional / necessary parking spaces for the ADU off-street. Requiring on-site parking spaces for the ADU not only helps to minimize the potential for nuisance complaints from neighboring properties and the surrounding community as a whole, but it also helps to ensure that cul-de-sacs and narrow streets remain free and clear for fire apparatus and other critical emergency response vehicles.   
  • Implement business license requirements if the ADU is to be rented.  An ADU is more useful to a homeowner if its occupancy is not restricted / limited to family members or temporary, non-paying guests.  Keep in mind that ordinance requirements that restrict items such as the latter are extremely hard to determine for compliance / enforcement when a nuisance complaint is filed with the community.  This in turn frequently leads to disgruntled neighbors, frustrated staff members, and only adds to the argument of the existence of  too many onerous code requirements.    
  • In some instances it may be appropriate for ADUs to be included in all zoning districts.  In some instances, it may not.  Communities should not be afraid to exclude or restrict ADU development within specific zoning districts or areas due to critical issues such as lack of lot size, utilities, or  infrastructure.

Action Items

  1. Spend a minute getting familiar with CiviclinQ. Note the “materials tab”.  This contains all of the documents you will need for this project.
  2. Move on to Lesson 2.2.