Hillsboro changes codes for accessory dwelling units
Hillsboro is making it easier for people to build or convert accessory dwelling units (ADUs) on their properties.
Otherwise known as "mother-in-law apartments," "granny flats," "background cottages" and "secondary suites," among other terms, ADUs allow more people to live on a property, thereby increasing residential density.
ADUs are attached or detached structures on a property that made into living spaces and rented out to tenants. Affordable housing advocates say accessory dwelling units offer cities a way to address housing shortages without having to approve larger-scale housing developments.
On Tuesday, Nov. 19, the Hillsboro City Council adopted the ADU code changes in accordance with House Bill 2001, which was passed by the Oregon State Legislature earlier this year.
Additionally, Metro required Hillsboro to adopt the changes as a condition of approval last year for the Witch Hazel Village South urban growth boundary expansion. The city plans to develop the area west of South Hillsboro and immediately south of the Witch Hazel Village community to meet a growing need for more single-family homes.
"It's to come into compliance with those laws; it's also to address some council priorities in terms of trying to allow, within the realm of public safety, a variety of housing choices," said Hillsboro community development director Dan Dias.
Hillsboro has a goal to create housing of all types, as the region continues to face affordable housing shortages.
HB 2001 requires cities to remove certain code requirements for ADUs in areas zoned for single-family homes. Cities can no longer require a property owner to occupy the ADU themselves. Property owners who create an ADU also no longer have to provide at least one off-street parking space.
The City Council unanimously passed an ordinance that brings the city's own code into alignment with the new state law.
City Councilor Anthony Martin said in an interview that he hopes the city can further remove barriers to property owners who want to create ADUs as it addresses other provisions of HB 2001.
He said even with the code changes adopted Tuesday, it will be difficult for homeowners to install ADUs on their property.
"We need to examine this code further," Martin said. "It's a weak market and there aren't a lot of places where they can be built, so where they can, we want to be able to allow them."
Many homeowners' associations don't allow ADUs, Martin said. In places where they are allowed, though, he believes the city's design standards could be further altered to make it easier for homeowners who want an ADU to add one.
The code changes regarding ADUs are the first of two phases that will allow Hillsboro to comply with HB 2001.
The second phase will address the new law's requirement that cities in the Metro region to allow multi-family housing complexes in any area zoned for single-family dwellings. Hillsboro and many other Metro cities opposed the requirement. Hillsboro's main concerns were related to infrustructure, according to Patrick Preston, spokesperson for the city.
The deadline to comply with the law's accessory dwelling unit mandates is Jan. 1, 2020, but the deadline to comply with its other provisions isn't until June 30, 2022.
Martin said continued work to comply with the housing law will give the city an opportunity to further reduce barriers to ADUs.
A previous version of this story incorrectly stated Hillsboro previously required ADUs to be occupied by a property owner and that property owners couldn't convert entire floors into ADUs. The story has also been updated to reflect the accurate deadline for HB 2001's provisions and that the city primarily objected to the bill because of concerns about infrastucture.
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