A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

Guess what: ADUs on Albany agenda again

Written February 25th, 2020 by Hasso Hering

Here, in back, is a detached ADU permitted by the city in line with state law, if not the city code.

Whether it wants to or not, the Albany City Council will once again have to confront the issue of accessory dwelling units or ADUs. That’s because the city is being threatened with legal action over the outdated ADU language in its development code.

Wednesday’s council agenda includes a letter from 1000 Friends of Oregon, a private organization based in Portland that thinks of itself as a guardian of Oregon land use laws. It says it will petition the state Land Conservation and Development Commission for an enforcement order unless Albany gets its code in line with state law.

In 2017 and ’19, the legislature passed laws forcing cities of Albany’s size to allow detached ADUs on all residential lots where they fit, and to do so without restrictions on ownership of those units, or requiring additional parking. Albany’s code apparently does not allow detached units. It also adds parking requirements and says either the primary dwelling or ADU must be owner-occupied.

Twice the council has tried to pass ordinances to fix those departures from state law. But both times a council majority of four also wanted to allow ADUs of up to 900 square feet. Mayor Sharon Konopa vetoed those ordinances because she wants ADUs no bigger than 750 square feet as allowed by the current code.

The state statute doesn’t say anything about the size, but the lack of a new ordinance to amend the code on the items that matter has left the city out of compliance — on paper, if not in practice.

On the advice of City Attorney Sean Kidd, the Community Development Department has issued permits for ADUs as required by the state law, ignoring the city code provisions to the contrary. (At least two detached ADUs have been built, one on Broadway Street and the other on Fifth Avenue.)

Presumably the state land use commission could order the city to amend its code. Or the council could amend the code on its own by not touching the contentious issue of size at all.

Maybe the council could quickly pass an ordinance amending the development code that simply says: “Accessory dwelling units are allowed wherever Oregon law says they are, and any provisions in this code to the contrary are repealed.” Hard to see how the mayor could veto a change like that. (hh)

9 responses to “Guess what: ADUs on Albany agenda again”

  1. Bill says:

    I hope the mayor sticks to her guns on this.

  2. My Real Name John Hartman says:

    I would worry a great deal less about 1000 Friends of Oregon. Better to focus your “concern” on the local leadership, if that term can be used.

  3. Jim Engel says:

    The one question I’d have is…How many of the 1,000 “Friends of Oregon” have ADU’s on their property? Let them set the example for the rest of us to be forced to follow suit. Better get used to the Leftist Liberals in Portland dictating to the rest of our State in the coming years on just how things are gonna be done.!

  4. J. Jacobson says:

    Rather than focus on 1000 friends – (they may or may not be) – pay close attention to the 7 rapscallions astride the Albany Council Chamber dais.
    Government mischief is set in motion there

  5. Lundy says:

    My gut says that at either 750 square feet or 900 — or with no size specification — there will never be enough ADUs to cause the kinds of problems that some envision. The council’s battle with the mayor has been sort of entertaining, though.

    • Gordon L. Shadle says:

      Yes, it has been entertaining….in a perverse sort of way.

      I wouldn’t expect the Mayor to cave. She couldn’t care less that a majority of the elected council disagrees with her.

      No, either Bill Coburn or Dick Olsen will need to change their mind so the Mayor can’t exercise her veto power. At times Coburn seems reasonable, so hopefully he ends this drama.


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