A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

Fuss over veto prolongs spat on ADUs

Written February 25th, 2019 by Hasso Hering

Mayor Konopa and Councilors Bill Coburn, Dick Olsen, and Alex Johnson II follow along as
Deputy City Clerk Allison Liesse reads aloud the mayor’s 5-page veto message.

The Albany City Council Monday went through the ritual of hearing the mayor’s veto message in regard to accessory dwelling units. Her opponents may try on Wednesday to override her veto, but at last report they lack the fifth vote to get that done.

As she had done before, Mayor Sharon Konopa vetoed a proposed ordinance the council had again passed 4-2 on Feb.13. It would allow detached second houses of up to 900 square feet on all single-family lots, without requirements on off-street parking or ownership, as long as they met setback, height and other requirements.

There was a bit of squabbling Monday. Councilor Bessie Johnson complained that the veto was invalid because the message omitted the number of the proposed ordinance. Councilor Rich Kellum was unhappy with the mayor’s use of the word “compromise” in her message. There also was a question of whether the charter requires the message to be read by the city clerk, who wasn’t there, or if the deputy clerk would do. (You can read the message, all five pages, in the council agenda here.)

The council could have tried to override the veto Monday, but Kellum said that action should be on TV, which the council’s Wednesday sessions are. Councilmen Bill Coburn and Dick Olsen have supported the mayor in her stand against proliferating second dwelling units in single-family neighborhoods. Unless either switches sides, the veto stands.

Meanwhile, the planning department has been approving detached accessory dwellings of up to 750 feet as long as either the main or second unit is intended to be owner-occupied and there’s at least one added off-street parking space, as the current code requires. In deference to a 2017 state law, though, the city also has allowed such units in areas where the current code bars them.

The only dispute between Konopa and four council members is over the maximum size allowed and the ownership issue. With any luck, Wednesday should be the last time the subject comes up. (hh)

13 responses to “Fuss over veto prolongs spat on ADUs”

  1. J. Hanschlatter says:

    We should all hope that this is not the last time this issue gets ground-up again. Divided government governs best. Keep up the decent work.

  2. Gordon L. Shadle says:

    Holding to traditional attitudes and being cautious about change, for example ADU policy, is the definition of card carrying conservatism.

    In this situation, progressive advocates like Kellum, who want change, are being stifled by a conservative voice (Konopa) who will do anything to preserve the status quo.

    It’s her way or the highway.

    Kinda weird, eh?

  3. Delfina H Hoxie says:

    I support the Mayor’s veto. I and many others moved here to have space to live. People should not be jammed into small spaces to live. Do you really want this sweet small town to be like Portland or Silicon Valley? I hear enough complaints regarding those places to know that you don’t. People need space to thrive and remain sane.

    • Ray Kopczynski says:

      “People should not be jammed into small spaces to live.”

      Unless existing state law is overturned, the state has already said ADUs are OK to have in residential zones. Albany is (and has been) out of compliance with state law and is ripe for a lawsuit. The “fine tuning” of the local regulations is what the discussions are about…

      “Do you really want this sweet small town to be like Portland or Silicon Valley?”

      That’s pure fear-mongering IMO. Given the current population of Albany, it will take a couple of generations for our population to even remotely come close to Portland or Silicon Valley…

      • Leroy says:

        Whats the rush? If the Mayors concern is valid and i think it is. What is or may be good for Portlandia is not necessarily good for Albany. I see real issues concerning ownership and tax liabilitys that could and may bankrupt land owners because they were forced into this ADU by their relatives and the relatives do not cover the added expenses. Being cautious is reasonable.

      • Hasso Hering says:

        Actually, I don’t think Albany is out of compliance with state law. In line with state law, Albany allows detached units everywhere the state law demands, even though its development code says otherwise. On the advice of the the city attorney, the community development department has been complying with state law and ignoring the part of the city code that does not.

        • Ray Kopczynski says:

          “On the advice of the the city attorney, the community development department has been complying with state law and ignoring the part of the city code that does not.”

          While that is true, it would be much better to have our city code comport with state law methinks; else one could get the impression that we can basically ignore our city code in other matters too…

  4. thomas cordier says:

    With the lurking Cascadia subduction zone forecasts; why does increasing population density in already populated cities make any sense??. Keep to ADU’s out to the extent possible. Keep on saying no Ms. Mayor

    • D. Strickland says:

      Kind of ambivalent about this issue, but with the trends toward smaller families( 0 to 1 children) it kinda makes sense. Population density certainly has an affect on social morality, not always for the better. How would an additional dwelling affect fees involved in utility hook fees and all that? Haven’t seen that issue discussed. Parking in some areas will be an issue with the lack of public transportation in Albany. A pretty complex issue that needs to be thoroughly explored. In my mind it comes down to what kind of an environment do we want to live in.

  5. Leroy says:

    Portland is out of compliance with the rest of the state. Multnomah county wants as many Liberals as they can pack into it. Albany has enough people. The focus should be another bridge over the Willamette to reduce downtown traffic congestion for those wanting I-5 connections.


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