Salem needs more housing, city studies conclude, and the city has come up with a plan to try to address that need.
The City is considering allowing accessory dwelling units (ADUs), which include granny flats, mother-in-law units, tiny houses and conversions of garages, sheds, basements and attics into living spaces.
Proponents say ADUs can expand housing choices, help provide affordable housing and meet Salem’s unmet need for more multifamily housing.
An ADU is a second housing unit that is part of a main house, or it is a detached unit that is smaller but on the same lot.
This form of housing has never been allowed in Salem, said city Project Manager Eunice Kim. Earlier this year, the council directed staff to come up with a proposal to allow them.
“When zoning was first in place in the 1920s they were never put in [city codes],” Kim said. “In recent years we’ve gotten a lot of input from the public asking them to be allowed.”
City staff and Housing Choices Advisory Committee members have explored this year how best the smaller units could be integrated into existing Salem neighborhoods.
Size, setbacks, height, design, owner occupancy and neighborhood impacts are among some of the issues discussed. Impacts to parking, sidewalks and neighborhood density are among big concerns expressed.
The committee includes representatives of neighborhood associations, the Planning Commission, City Council, and building associations, among others.
The Salem Housing Needs Analysis noted Salem is growing, needs more affordable housing, and projected a 207-acre deficit for multi-family housing over 20 years.
A proposed code amendment is slated to go to the Planning Commission and City Council for consideration in early 2017, Kim said. Public input will go into drafting the proposed code amendment.