accessory dwelling units

Commissioner Fritz questions city plan to legalize tiny homes near property lines, a perk currently given to auto storage

by on November 20th, 2015 at 10:55 am

Sally Spear, right, lives in a backyard home in Northeast Portland with her daughter’s family.
(Photos by M.Andersen/BikePortland)

Until this week, Portland seemed poised to eliminate one of the many ways it prioritizes housing for cars over housing for people.

For decades, there’s been exactly one way to build a 15-foot-tall structure up to the edge of most Portland property lines: put a car in it.

Want an accessory dwelling unit the same size as a garage? Sorry, that’ll have to be set back five feet from the property line, even if it has no windows or doors facing the property edge.

Bike sheds currently face the same restriction: unlike garages that were designed for cars, bike sheds must be at least five feet away from the property line in all single-family residential zones.


Backyard homes are almost as car-lite as apartments on transit lines, study finds

by on July 10th, 2014 at 3:46 pm

Sally Spear, 63, moved into a 200-square-foot backyard cottage designed by her son-in-law Schuyler Smith, 33, in 2010. Smith now designs ADUs for a living.
(Photo by M.Andersen/BikePortland)

When it comes to cars, accessory units in backyards and basements are nearly as low-impact as big apartment buildings next to bus lines.

That’s the conclusion of a new state-funded analysis (PDF) that combines the results of a survey of Portland accessory dwelling owners with other recent studies to start examining one of Portland’s newest real estate trends.

The average rental unit in Portland brings 1.31 cars on site, according to the U.S. Census. For transit-oriented apartment buildings, that falls to 0.83 cars — and for accessory dwelling units, it’s 0.93 cars.


In some central Portland neighborhoods, one in 10 new homes is now tiny

by on February 25th, 2014 at 11:20 am

Sally Spear, 63, moved into a 200-square-foot backyard cottage designed by her son-in-law Schuyler Smith, 33, in 2010. Last year he co-founded Polyphon, an architecture firm that specializes largely in accessory dwellings, using her Woodlawn cottage as the first template.
(Photos by M.Andersen/BikePortland)
Real Estate Beat is sponsored by Portlandia Home

Call it the people’s density.

Four years after Portland slashed its transportation and parks fees for “in-law” units and other secondary dwellings in hopes of increasing the housing supply in its most in-demand neighborhoods, the city has gotten its wish.

Though they’re still far from common — it’s only about 3 percent of new dwellings citywide, and fans say those that exist remain in hot demand — the backyards, cellar doors and underused garages of Portland’s central neighborhoods are rapidly filling up with “accessory dwelling units,” which the city defines as living spaces of 800 square feet or less that have an entrance, bathroom and kitchen to call their own.