Of the Keizertimes

The Keizer Planning Commission buttoned up a conversation about accessory dwelling units (ADUs) at its meeting Wednesday, Nov. 14.

The work began at the commission’s October meeting and was continued. The Oregon Legislature is now requiring cities of a certain size to permit ADUs – think mother-in-law cottages. Keizer already permitted the buildings, but the planning commission was tasked with cleaning up some of the gray areas in the development code.

After cementing some initial guidelines last month, the two main outstanding questions were whether to allow duplexes to add a third dwelling and whether owner occupancy in one of the dwellings would be a requirement.

What’s an ADU?

Commissioner Garry Whalen brought up the issue of duplex regulations at the meeting last month, but said he drove around town to see how many duplex lots even had the space to accommodate more construction. He said only a dozen or so were likely to have the space. Given that, he didn’t feel restricting additional dwellings was onerous.

On the requirement of owner occupancy, commissioners eventually agreed to keep it in place, but many appeared torn.

“I have a friend who lost his job and they wanted to keep the home they are in and rent it out with the hope of moving back,” said Commissioner Crystal Wilson, who was concerned about limiting options for those in similar circumstances.

“I have the same thoughts on that. Limiting the ability for rental income is an issue. Right now, it doesn’t affect me, but it could happen to someone who buys my home,” said Commissioner Kyle Juran.

Commissioner Hersch Sangster was the only one to advocate for keeping the requirement without reservation.

What’s an ADU?

“For now, I want it owner occupied to prevent the 1 percent [of bad owners] from causing a problem,” Sangster said.

One other change from the previous discussion of ADUs made parking requirements more explicit. A prior version of the text said adding additional parking would not be required if on-street parking is available. The new text requires that the on-street parking be adjacent to the property adding an ADU.

The commission’s recommendations will now go to the city council for approval.