Thursday, October 26, 2017

Vancouver, Washington Ready to Expand Use of ADUs

In response to the area’s housing crunch, Clark County, Washington is moving forward with changes to its building codes that it hopes will spur the development of previously underutilized types of housing.


This type of development is something that is needed in every densely populated areas that has a lack of affordable and attainable housing. A very simple idea for a major housing problem. The modular housing industry should be leading the charge to change codes to allow IRC approved Park Model size ACU, Granny Pods, Med Cottages and Tiny Houses in metropolitan areas.

Will that ever happen, probably not.

“We have a systemic problem,” said Colete Anderson, a member of the county’s planning staff, to the roughly 50 residents who gathered in the Bud Van Cleve Community Room at the Luke Jensen Sports Park on Wednesday evening. “And we are trying to come up with ways to encourage different types of housing.”

She explained that the code changes are specifically intended to encourage the development of cottage-style housing as well as accessory dwelling units, small residences that come in the form of a converted basement, an addition to an existing home or a new backyard building.

Cottage houses are houses on shared or individual lots that have a common green space. They are denser developments, and other communities in the state have looked to them as an affordable-housing option. Although the county has allowed cottage houses since 2012, Anderson said none have been developed in Clark County.

She said that every city in the county has its own code governing ADUs. She said Vancouver, which recently revised its code, has 65 ADUs. Clark County has allowed for ADUs since 1993, but the county has documented only 22 ADUs in the unincorporated Vancouver urban growth area, according to a fact sheet provided at the meeting.

“That’s not a very good track record,” Anderson said of the county.

The proposed changes would remove the current one-bedroom limitation on ADUs. They would allow basement ADUs to match the square footage of the main floor and allow manufactured or modular homes to be used. The minimum square footage for ADUs would be reduced to 150.

The current county code doesn’t contain language concerning ADUs in rural areas. The closest thing it recognizes are guest houses, which don’t contain kitchens. The code changes would create “urban” and “rural” classifications for ADUs. Because of a requirement in the state’s land-use laws, rural ADUs would need to be attached to the primary dwelling.

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