A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

Why the big worry about ADUs?

Written November 8th, 2018 by Hasso Hering

One of the new neighborhoods in North Albany, where are is no room for backyard accessory dwelling units.

Once again the Albany City Council wrestled Wednesday with allowing accessory dwelling units (ADUs), which is hard to understand since the city already allows them in most areas and hardly anybody is putting them in.

The council voted 4-2 to adopt amendments to the development code to allow detached accessory units in the few residential areas where the current code doesn’t allow them. The vote also was to allow a detached ADU to contain up to 900 square feet, and to require no additional off-street parking for one if there’s no room.

As before, detached accessory units have to meet existing setback requirements and height limitations. In lots of newer neighborhoods, houses have been built so close together on small lots that detached ADUs are not possible.

Last summer, Mayor Sharon Konopa vetoed a similar code change. After Wednesday’s vote, she said she did not know whether she would veto it again.

The mayor worries that allowing accessory units, especially up to 900 square feet, will change the nature of Albany’s residential neighborhoods. She also cited concerns that street and utility systems were not developed with the idea that more people might eventually live there.

Councilman Bill Coburn worried about more dogs. City law limits households to two dogs. Coburn said he’s been bitten by neighbors’ dogs three times,  and he thought adding accessory units might double the number of allowed dogs per property.

Coburn and Dick Olsen voted against the amendment.  Councilors Rich Kellum, Ray Kopcynski, Mike Sykes, and Bessie Johnson voted yes.

The council had to take some action because state law now requires that cities allow accessory units in all residential zones. Albany had some restrictions that went against the state law.

The state law is supposed to increase the supply of housing. But don’t expect that to happen in a big way. Planning manager David Martineau told the council that since the council debate on this issue in July, the whopping number of ADU applications the city has received was … two. (hh)

10 responses to “Why the big worry about ADUs?”

  1. Terry says:

    If they officially allow this BS. I hope they are prepared to lower the property taxes of the surrounding homes. Turning residential neighborhoods into ghettos will not enhance property values.

    • Ray Kopczynski says:

      Notwithstanding that it’s the county assessor’s office that determines property values (not the city), please show me where adding an ADU has lowered the property value of surrounding homes.

    • avidreader69 says:

      I agree with you Terry.

  2. Lundy says:

    The most striking piece of info in this story is Coburn having been bitten by neighbor dogs three times. I’ve had dogs forever — one, two or three at a time — and I’ve been bitten exactly once (while breaking up a scuffle), and none of my dogs has ever bitten anyone else.

  3. J. Jacobson says:

    Why would anyone object. Our mayor believes that homelessness is a lifestyle choice. Granny Shacks out back are no less.

  4. William says:

    I agree with Bill Coburn that more dogs could create more issues. Apart from attacks and harassment by dogs there is the problem of excessive barking at all hours and there seems to be no remedy available to address the degradation of quality of quality of life from endless barking dogs. (except to move) Sadly, the lowest common denominator usually wins. I love dogs but don’t love hearing my neighbors dogs at all hours night and day.

  5. Kim Sass says:

    If ADUs can relieve some of the rental shortage issues in our community, I am all for them. In fact, we have an experienced carpenter friend who would like to build a “demonstration” unit to show that it can blend into the neighborhood without the dire consequences imagined by many. Maybe a little dog kennel could also be part of the design? If any of your readers would like to have the carpenter’s contact information, do let me know.

  6. Albany YIMBY says:

    It’s incredible how we are having trouble with housing, having Albany so much space lingering that is so poorly used.

    What is the parking lot footprint of the city? What % of this parking space is actually used, or needed? Why some residential streets are so wide? Why can’t we allow mixed zoning to turn Pacific, 1st, 3rd, 34th or Geary into beautiful French-boulevard styled streets? What do you think attracts more businesses and a local thriving economy, continuous sprawl or denser cities?

    Densify Albany, YIMBY!

    Some links with more on this:




    • HowlingCicada says:

      Yaay! Thank you! With your links I’ll have enough to keep me busy through the upcoming dreary holiday.

      An alternative to putting motorized traffic in its rightfully reduced place is shifting it out of sight completely (link below). I’m undecided on the best scheme, wish there was just one good place in the whole “rich” world where I could live a mile from the nearest owner-driven full-speed car (Venice isn’t a real city).


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