Two years after it began in July 2018, the accessory-dwelling dispute between Albany Mayor Sharon Konopa and four city council members ended this afternoon when the mayor gave in.
At a council work session, Konopa expressed her frustration with the legislature’s push for more housing density while barring cities from requiring more off-street parking. And with the state imposing requirements that she thinks will harm the livability of neighborhoods, she abandoned her insistence that accessory dwelling units or ADUs be no bigger than 750 square feet, which is the limit set by the Albany development code.
Instead, she accepted a code change allowing ADUs of up to 900 square feet, which is what four council members had wanted and voted for at least twice over the last two years. Those votes prompted two vetoes by the mayor.
The issue Monday was a set of changes to make the city’s development code comply with state law on where ADUs must be allowed and what restrictions may be placed on their construction.
With the size dispute settled, the council voted 5-1 to have an ordinance drafted to make the several changes. The ordinance will come up Wednesday night at the council’s regular meeting. Dick Olsen opposes the larger ADUs and voted no.
Thousand Friends of Oregon, a land-use watchdog group, had threatened to seek state enforcement against the city unless it changed its code language to, among other things, allow ADUs anywhere the state law now says they must be allowed. But it held off because of the COVID crisis.
Albany officials had been granting permits based on the state law, which leaves the size of ADUs up to local jurisdictions. They wanted the local code changed anyway in order to avoid confusion.
Councilwoman Bessie Johnson told Konopa she appreciated the mayor’s concession on the 900 square feet and said she did not expect to see many ADUs of that size being built. (hh)