DENVER (KDVR) — It is a popular idea that is getting new life at the statehouse: accessory dwelling units.
Called ADUs for short, these could be mother-in-law suites or adding a small unit in your yard.
Almost 80% of Coloradans like the idea of ADUs to help solve the housing crisis. But here’s the problem: The last time lawmakers pushed for them in a larger package, they failed.
In 2023’s land-use bill, cities and townships pushed back hard last session when lawmakers tried to pass statewide zoning laws for ADUs. Some say this new proposal still feels like an overextension of government.
“I think this is the most popular part of last year’s land-use bill. And when I say popular, I mean among the people of Colorado,” said state Rep. Judy Amabile.
Most Coloradans support ADUs
She is right about that. Polling from Keating Research found that 78% of Colorado voters are in favor of more accessory dwelling units being built on single-use family homes across the state.
Amabile is one of the sponsors of a bipartisan bill looking to increase this type of housing. She said it is a way for the state to create more housing for modern families.
“It is a property rights issue too,” Amabile said. “It’s building housing. It’s creating an opportunity for people to age in place, it’s creating an opportunity to have a disabled person live with you or an aging parent or a caregiver. Like exchanging some kind of caregiving for free rent or whatever it is people want. And that’s what kind of brought me to it,” Amabile said.
Amabile said years ago, she needed this type of housing herself.
“I had set up an ADU over my garage that didn’t fall within the regulations. I had my disabled son living there and he was there for about six months, and it was really good for our family,” she said. “And when the city came and shut that down, they said he can’t sleep here. And then he ended up at the homeless shelter.”
Which Colorado areas would be under ADU bill?
The new bill looks to require cities with more than a thousand people and located in what the Department of Transportation calls Metropolitan Planning Organizations to allow ADUs to be built in single-family zones. The MPOs include the Denver metro area, Grand Valley region, north Front Range, Pikes Peak area and Pueblo. Despite the amount of families across the state seeming to be on board with the proposal, city governments are not completely sold.
The Colorado Municipal League did not like last year’s bill. This time, they say: “We appreciate the ADU bill as a start in addressing Colorado’s housing challenges. While we share the goal of expanding housing options, CML’s position remains consistent with last year in that ADU policy should be built on partnership, not preemption. Unlike last year, there’s time to get this right together.”
Though cities in the regions mentioned would have to adhere to the requirement, cities could apply for grants to help reduce fees for low- and moderate-income homeowners looking to build ADUs. The Municipal League appreciates that part of the bill but still takes issue with the mandate.
Source: Rocky Mountain News
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