Accessory Dwelling Units: A Sustainable Housing Solution

Guest post from Mary Hearn, ADU Enthusiast & Advocate

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Allowing homeowners to add accessory dwelling units (ADUs) to their property is one of the most promising infill development strategies we have for increasing our supply of housing within the existing fabric of our community.

Many communities across the country are experiencing a severe housing crisis due to a lack of housing inventory that is causing prices to rise and leaving many residents completely priced out of their local markets.  This market reality tends to force large scale development to the urban fringe, which then increases traffic and greenhouse gas emissions as people travel to and from their homes and businesses.

There are numerous community advantages to infill-type developments such as ADUs.  They distribute less expensive housing throughout the city while having less visual impact on neighborhood character.  They can provide flexible space for a home office or on-site caregiver, housing for family members, or provide additional rental income to a homeowner.

Since these units tend to have a smaller footprint, ADUs by design contribute to a more sustainable and livable community.  We must begin to reimagine our urban landscape in a way that preserves and respects our Urban Growth Boundary and creates more affordable housing options close to common destinations like schools, jobs, parks, and retail.

By restricting urban sprawl and building in the core, we alleviate lengthy commuter traffic, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, avoid the added cost for new public infrastructure and maintenance, preserve open space and natural resources, and contribute to a healthier community.

If we as a community desire to thrive in good health and create a high quality of life for all of our residents, we must continue to advocate for more infill development that allows for a variety of housing types to meet a variety of family sizes and incomes.  ADUs are one small, but mighty solution.