Accessory Dwelling Units
Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) refers to a secondary housing unit or apartment that exists on the same property as a single-family residence, either attached or detached from the primary residence (see image). These dwellings are commonly used for housing an adult child, aging parent(s), or for property owners to make supplemental income by renting out the unit. In nearly all cases, the ADU is a dwelling that is smaller than the principal home, differentiating this housing type from a true duplex or twin home.
While ADUs are only one small tool in addressing the City’s housing needs, they can fill a number of niches that cannot be met by other types of development.
New Housing Opportunities
Given the cost to build, ADUs will not be a way of tackling the City’s goals around affordable housing targeted at households making less than 50 percent of Area Median Income. However, ADUs can have the following impact for specific types of households:
- The opportunity to rent in one of Golden Valley’s single-family neighborhoods could be a more affordable option for a young couple given the rising cost of homes in the metro, allowing them to enjoy the amenities of living in a single-family neighborhood while they save for a mortgage and down payment.
- Renting an ADU could be the type of supplemental income that helps ease the cost burden of a mortgage on the property owners themselves.
- Building an ADU for a family member to move into opens up the main structure for children with growing families who might not otherwise be able to afford living in the area.
Aging In Place
One of the principal concerns the City hears from residents over age 60 is the ability to stay in Golden Valley, and preferably in the neighborhoods where they have built relationships over time. While the City will continue to pursue senior housing opportunities at higher densities, these types of facilities have their trade-offs, and demographic data suggests that the City simply can’t keep up with its aging population.
ADUs offer a unique alternative to larger and assistive housing options for seniors who want to stay in Golden Valley. Building an ADU can allow a parent to pass their home on to a family member while living adjacent to them for caregiving. An ADU can even be designed for single-level living or lower maintenance, with the parent’s needs in mind. Alternately, the new ADU could be a dwelling unit for a live-in nurse or other caregiver while maintaining some privacy in their living arrangement.
The ADU option is still expensive to build and is a front-loaded cost, compared with an assistive living facility that charges a monthly or annual fee. However, the option to remain in their Golden Valley neighborhood allows seniors to remain independent and amongst people they may have build friendships with.
While not every single-family property will be eligible for an ADU due to lot size or the home’s characteristics, amending the City’s zoning code to allow these units can present its own particular challenges, such as:
- increasing the density of neighborhoods
- increasing parking demands and the amount of vehicle trips on local roads
- being very expensive to build, especially in the case of detached units
- requiring new restrictions on sale of property to avoid splitting ownership or displacing renters
- having a visual impact in the rear yards of single-family properties, especially for detached units
In most cases, these challenges can be planned for via regulations like size restrictions and proximity to property lines.
For challenges like added density, the solution might not be City regulation but other limiting factors, like cost to build. In most communities that have introduced ADU ordinances, the actual rate of construction has been slow due to these structures costing upwards of $250,000 dollars. For example, from 2015–2019, Minneapolis only had 137 ADUs permitted, amounting to 0.2 percent of all single-family lots.
Before making a recommendation to the City Council, the Planning Commission is asking residents to take a survey in order to gather information regarding public knowledge, need, and opinion on ADUs.
Using the links below, residents are encouraged to learn more about ADUs on the City website, if needed, then take the survey to share feedback.
ADU Information Resources
- AARP – The ABCs of ADUs
- AARP – More ADU Information and Resources
- Family Housing Fund – Twin Cities ADU Guidebook
- Family Housing Fund – ADU Idea Book for Mid-Century Homes