As we noted in the news roundup, Councilmember Mike O’Brien wants to update the rules around detached accessory dwelling units, a.k.a. backyard cottages, a.k.a. DADUs. Erica Barnett at PubliCola notes that O’Brien is looking at streamlined permitting and prefab designs that would reduce some hurdles to installing a backyard cottage. Some of the designs actually look pretty cool.
What I like about O’Brien’s thinking here is that he’s looking to reduce up-front capital costs. While there are all sorts of regulatory hurdles to DADUs (and excessive parking requirements), the main impediment, it seems to me, is that most homeowners don’t have tens of thousands of dollars sitting around to build a DADU, and banks aren’t giving out HELOCs like they used to. Prefab designs could help reduce costs.
Another step the Council and DPD could take would be to remove the owner-occupancy requirement for DADUs and ADUs (mother-in-laws), which I’ve written about previously. Requiring the property owner to live in one of the units makes banks less likely to lend and prevents investors from building more DADUs and ADUs in the first place. I hope the Council and DPD consider it.