Lincoln City: Making more affordable housing on land already built on – as well as new cluster cottages.
Accessory Dwelling Units: ADU’s
It’s long been said that Lincoln City is a tough place to get a start, what with the high cost of housing. A young person starting out, or a single parent, or a college student or even senior citizens wanting to down-size don’t have much to pick from around town. Many don’t want a lot of house to take care of. They just want something they can afford and be comfortable in.
Well, Lincoln City City Hall has heard their call and is taking steps to begin providing landowners with an option to provide such affordable housing – on a lot that’s already built on.
These smaller sized homes are called “Accessory Dwelling Units (ADU)” and they’re built on lots where a regular house already exists. An ADU is a smaller house, 750 square feet, or less than half the size of the main dwelling, whichever is less. The overall lot must be at least 3,500 square feet. If it’s smaller, then the ADU must be connected to the main dwelling. And the owner of the main dwelling must also own the ADU. The ADU must also be built of similar materials and color scheme.
The ADU has its own full bathroom, bedroom(s) and kitchen. The council discussed whether the ADU should be connected to the utilities of the original home or have its own connection. The city planning commission recommended that they be joined in order to avoid expensive sewer and water hook-up fees but the council said it needed more time to think about that part of it.
The council also seemed to agree that these ADU’s should not be allowed to become Vacation Rental Dwellings (VRD’s) or mini-motels. The council also agreed that the ADU’s should not be the dominant feature of the lot – that it ought to be built behind the main unit where practical. And that it get its own street number.
Community Development Director Richard Townsend told the council that such dwellings are already allowed in the Nelscott and Taft areas and seem to work out well. He said he was bringing the idea forward for council consideration so they can think about it for a while. The council seemed amenable to the whole idea and scheduled further discussions and possible action at their next city council meeting set for March 24th.
The second style of housing suggested to the council was “Cottage Housing Developments,” or cottage clusters to keep it simple. Townsend said smaller cottages could be built to twice the normal densities to get a lot of housing units onto smaller pieces of property.
Townsend said the cottages would be arranged so that they all open up on a common area of open space, that there be sidewalks and buildings for common use, if practical. Parking could be around the rear areas of the cottages or in a centralized location or scattered in a way that works. They could be as large as 1,250 square feet with many at less than 1,000 square feet. Some could have attached garages, depending on the configuration of the lots and total land area. The cottages could also be built to condominium standards, with the buyers owning the inside of the homes while another owner would own and maintain the outside.
Once again, the council made it clear that these cottage clusters cannot be transformed into Vacation Rental Dwellings. The main reason for considering these smaller dwellings is to meet the housing needs of Lincoln City residents – either just starting out or downsizing to a more manageable level.
Under public comment on the cottages one woman testified that since these cottage clusters are proposed to be located within single family R-1 zones, how will they affect the views and atmosphere of the single family homeowners already living there. She said “What do you think it’ll look like out their front room windows to see the backs of cottages, parked cars and trash containers?” Another citizen suggested that some other zone besides single-family residential might also work.
The discussion went on for quite a while, the point being made frequently that the town needs such housing especially since a large percentage of its workforce is comprised of service sector workers – waiters, waitresses, maintenance workers, room and maid services, retail clerks, taxi drivers and others who need to find affordable living arrangements.
The council said it wanted to think more about the proposal and that they’ll be ready to deliberate and make a decision on these two affordable housing concepts at the council’s next meeting on March 24th.