Eighteen people talked to the Albany City Council Wednesday about accessory dwelling units, most of them in favor of allowing larger ones. But it made no difference in the outcome: The mayor and two councilors want one thing, four councilors want something else, and nothing was resolved.
The public hearing on ADUs took more than an hour and a half. At the end, the council failed to pass either of two alternative code changes to the required second reading. So both will be on the agenda again on Feb. 13.
Albany allows ADUs, but state law says it must allow detached units on all single-family lots where they can meet setback and other requirements. The city code doesn’t do that yet, but the planning division has allowed detached units in spite of its code because the state law demands it.
One proposed code change — favored by Mayor Konopa and Councilors Coburn and Olsen — would meet the state mandate but keep the city’s existing requirements on parking, ownership and size (no more than half the main house or 750 square feet). The other, backed by Councilors Kellum, Alex Johnson, Sykes, and Bessie Johnson, would drop parking and ownership requirements and raise the maximum size to 75 percent of the main house or 900 square feet, whichever is less.
Both proposals failed Wednesday because neither could not get unanimous consent, required by the charter, to be read a second time at the same meeting.
Speakers at the hearing ranged from those who lived near ADUs and saw no problems with the relaxed requirements in order to meet a housing need, to those who seemed to fear that developers would swoop in, demolish old neighborhoods and replace them with two rentals per lot.
The most informed testimony came from builder John Robinson, who presented details on ADU requirements from nine comparable Oregon cities, along with findings from studies on the effects of allowing ADUs on parking and other issues. The weight of the information favored the less restrictive approach. Among his points: ADUs cost between $80,000 and $100,000, and allowing more than 750 square feet makes ADUs more efficient to design and less expensive to build.
In the audience was Marci Howard. The city had issued a permit for a 750-foot detached ADU on Broadway Street for her and her husband. She was hoping the council would enact the less restrictive code change so she could have a laundry inside instead of in the garage.
Whether the impasse will persist, who knows? Unless either the mayor or one of the four councilors relents or accepts a compromise, ADUs will make future council sessions look like Groundhog Day. (hh)