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Suppose you could install a revenue-producing Accessory Dwelling Unit -- for no cost?

ERIC NORBERG - The crane carefully turns the ADU counterclockwise, slowly rotating it to be set sideways on a foundation ready at the rear of the property. In an article last summer in our sister newspaper, the Portland Tribune, Reporter Steve Law explained the business model of "Dweller", a company founded by a former Director of the City of Portland's Development Commission, Patrick Quinton.

Law stated it this way: "Dweller can do all the work to install a small prefabricated ADU in someone's yard, and hand over the keys, for $125,000." But there is an alternative:

"Or, it won't charge the homeowner a thing – retaining the ownership of the small dwelling, and managing it itself as a rental." In that case, the homeowner will receive 30% of the rent received from the renter; "and after 25 years the homeowner will own the ADU outright, for no cash." Frequently the new ADU will have to be raised over the existing house on the lot in order to place it on a previously constructed foundation in the backyard, so the use of a crane for the purpose is built into the cost, according to reporter Steve Law.

Law added, "Dweller's model will be 'watched, not just in Portland, but nationally,' according to Robert Liberty, a former Metro Councilor who has returned from Eugene to direct Portland State University's Institute for Sustainable Solutions, which is spearheading an initiative to make it easier to build and afford ADU's."

This concept became real to residents on S.E. Harold Street in Westmoreland in mid-October, when the owner of a rental on the south side of the 1900 block was on hand to watch the arrival and installation of one of these pre-built ADU's in the back yard of his property by a truck-mounted crane which lifted it over his house and the neighbor's shed onto the pre-built foundation in the back yard, and THE BEE was on hand to document it.

It was not "done and over in one day"; considerable finishing work was then required, including plumbing and electrical installation, and the reworking of the existing driveway to provide access for future renters to the rear of the property. That part wasn't entirely done until spring. But it was clear that this was one solution to the residential density that the city encourages homeowners to address, with additional construction on their land. Although the city is all in favor of ADUs and duplexes, the county so far has viewed these as "material improvements" which trigger a reset of the property tax limitation, allowing reassessing of the property, and potentially leading to a substantial increase in its property tax.

But certainly the Dweller concept does accommodate getting more people living in Portland's residential areas; and some folks in Inner Southeast may be interested in Dweller's innovative approach to accomplishing this with little or no cash outlay.

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