Opinion, Recommendations

LCNA seeks benefits of “granny flats” in the Gateway


Accessory dwelling units (ADUs) – also known as “granny flats”, “mother-in-law apartments” or “alley flats” – have received significant attention nationwide in recent years, alongside conversations about the lack of affordable housing options for renters, aging Boomers, and homeowners in growing urban areas.


The City of Dallas does not generally allow ADUs but citizens in Oak Cliff have petitioned The Office Sustainable Development and Construction and the Dallas City Plan Commission for an amendment to our current zoning code ordinances (PD 468) that would establish regulations for ADUs and make them allowed.  This amendment would be included in the ordinance presently under consideration for the rezoning of the Oak Cliff Gateway.


What is an ADU?


The definition of an accessory dwelling unit (ADU) can vary by community. The Municipal Research and Services Center of Washington states that ADUs are most commonly defined as “a self-contained living unit created within or detached from a single-family dwelling.” Many city ordinances highlight the existence of separate cooking, sleeping, and sanitation facilities as distinguishing ADU features. Within their definition, accessory dwellings allow a homeowner to add an accessory dwelling unit on a property with an existing or proposed single-family home in the form of a detached, attached, or interior dwelling with a separate entrance.


BENEFITS of an ADU ordinance amendment


Within the past few decades, more and more municipalities across the country have been adopting standards to allow or encourage the construction of ADUs. Commonly-cited examples include Seattle, Portland, Vancouver, Denver, and Savannah.  Communities are looking to ADUs to help make progress toward a variety of community goals, including:


• Allowing seniors to age-in-place or live near relatives as their housing needs shrink.

• Improving affordability in a tight rental market.

• Accommodating the demand for growth without disturbing existing neighborhood character or contributing to sprawl.

• Generating income for homeowners to help finance housing costs and improvements to their homes.

• Diversifying housing stock and provide greater opportunity for single-person households to live in low-density residential areas.

• Improving walkability with access to local commercial and public/institutional uses.


This post was drafted with language and definitions provided by The City of Minneapolis’ Department of Community Planning & Economic Development.

Posted by Michael A. Mendoza



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