Research & Writing
“The ABCs of ADUs”
We recently worked with AARP to research and write “The ABCs of ADUs – A guide to Accessory Dwelling Units and how they expand housing options for people of all ages.” Download or order free printed copies of the report here.
The AARP is a strong supporter of ADUs (and other in-fill housing options). As small houses or apartments that exist on the same property lot as a single-family residence, ADUs play a major role in serving a national housing need. This traditional home type is remerging as an affordable and flexible housing option that meets the needs fo older adults and young families alike.
The guide is intended to serve as a readily-accessible primer for elected officials, policymakers, local leaders, homeowners, consumers, and others to learn what accessory dwelling units are and how and why they are built. It also suggests best practices for how towns, cities, counties, and states can include ADUs in their mix of housing options.
“Character-Compatible, Space-Efficient Housing Options for Single-Dwelling Neighborhoods”
In 2016, we completed work on a small contract with Oregon’s Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) and Department of Land Conservation and Development (DLCD) to do case studies of several space-efficient housing types, including cottage clusters, accessory dwelling units, corner duplexes, and internal divisions of existing homes. A short synopsis of the project is summarized below. The full report can be downloaded here, and a presentation Eli and Madeline gave on it (at a Metro Regional Government “Lunch & Learn” session) can be viewed here.
For several years, DEQ has been researching and documenting the environmental benefits of space-efficient single family housing models. In some cases, the research has identified zoning code barriers to housing types such as accessory dwelling units, cottage clusters, and other housing models. Meanwhile, the State of Oregon’s Transportation and Growth Management Program (TGM), which is a partnership between DLCD and the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT), has been supporting communities across the state in their transportation and land use planning efforts by providing aid to communities to expand transportation options for people, including promoting efficient use of urban land. In part, TGM supports communities through the Model Development Code for Small Cities and associated technical assistance to local jurisdictions. The Model Development Code is primarily used by small cities of fewer than 25,000 people, but can also serve as a buffet of options for larger cities. This project represents an opportunity for DEQ research to support TGM’s future updates to the Model Development Code. Specifically, DEQ is providing research and case studies to demonstrate best practices from development codes and built examples of space efficient housing in Oregon and elsewhere.
We developed a summary report highlighting case studies of built space-efficient housing models and the local codes that support or block them. The case studies include lessons learned, actual code language that was supportive or limiting for the project, best practices recommended by any of the project developers, feedback from the current occupants (when possible), and pictures of the completed project. The final report is a resource that can be utilized by TGM for future Model Development Code updates to support a broader palette of housing options, including potential new ones that provide significant environmental and transportation benefits. The report is also available to other planning authorities interested in supporting space-efficient housing options through zoning code practices that have resulted in successfully built projects.