Providing housing choices that meet our social, economic and environmental goals by updating existing ordinances that allow, for example, seniors to age in place.


Back in the early part of the last century, living quarters independent of primary dwelling units were common in single-family housing. After WWII, when sprawl began to take hold, the increasing demand for low density development led to the prohibition of accessory dwelling units (ADUs) in many municipalities.


ADU1ADUs are a housing option for older adults and/or people with disabilities who want to live close to family or caregivers. They can also be convenient and affordable to young people entering the workforce. ADUs can benefit homeowners by providing extra income that can help mitigate increases in the cost of living or make their own homes more affordable. ADUs cost less to build than new housing and require no new infrastructure. They can do all of this while maintaining community character and compatibility with established neighborhoods.


There are currently 133 households with ADUs that are registered with the city. A recent survey of these households conducted by a consultant on behalf of the city (58% response rate) found that supplemental income was the primary reason for creating the unit. The vast majority (70%) of these units are under 1,000 square feet and most (65%) are within the footprint of the existing primary building.


Our current ordinance allows for ADUs on 10% of properties in certain neighborhoods and requires the provision of an additional off-street parking space.


Communities such as Santa Cruz, California and Portland, Oregon provide successful case studies on how to embrace this housing option with innovative ordinances designed to meet their goals.


It’s time for Boulder to do the same.