The 2018 Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) ordinance requires review of the existing regulations By City Council when one of the following occurs:
- by December 31, 2025; or
- when the city issues 200 D-ADU permits citywide; or
- when the city issues 25 D-ADU permits in any one neighborhood as defined in Chapter 20.00 BMC, Zoning Tables.
What is an ADU?
An ADU is a small, self-contained residential unit located on the same lot as an existing single-family home. As the term “accessory” implies, ADUs are defined to be smaller in size and prominence than the main residence on the lot, and aid the City in providing a range of housing choices for residents. They are sometimes called “mother-in-law apartments” or “granny flats” because they are often used to house extended family. An ADU has all of the basic facilities needed for day-to-day living independent of the main home, such as a kitchen, sleeping area and a bathroom. An ADU may be created as a separate unit within an existing home (such as in an attic or basement), and addition to the home (such as a separate apartment unit with separate entrance), or in a separate structure on the lot (such as a converted garage).
What are the local restrictions?
Attached and detached ADUs are allowed in most areas that allow residential development, including single family zoned areas. Whether attached or detached from the main residence, the City of Bellingham requires that the main residence and the ADU are owned by the same person, and the owner must live on site. Below are some local resources that can provide more details:
- The Housing Revolution is Coming
- Accessory Dwelling Units Final Environmental Impact Statement (10/2018 – City of Seattle)
- Accessory Dwelling Units 2022 Annual Report (3/2023 – City of Seattle)
- Accessory Dwelling Units Annual Report (9/2021 – City of Seattle)
- The Case for Killing the Owner-Occupancy Policy on Backyard Cottages
- Homeowner’s Handbook: How to Build and ADU
- AARP: The ABC’s of ADU’s
- Summing up ADU research: are accessory dwelling units as great, or as horrible, as people say?
- Opinion: Seattle neighborhoods need to embrace land-use changes
- Backyard Cottages: The New Bungalows Of The Middle Class
- Municipal Research and Services Center (MRSC) information page on ADUs
- Accessory Dwelling Units: Model State Act and Local Ordinance
- Accessory Dwelling Units in Portland, OR: Evaluation and Interpretation of a Survey of ADU owners
- ADUs and Don’ts
- In-law and Out-law Apartments
- Nothing ADU-ing
- Solutions for Healthier Communities
- Aging in Community: City Planners Get on Board to Help Lead the Way
- Aging in Place: An Intergenerational Priority
- Why Vancouver Trounces the Rest of Cascadia in Building ADU
(and how Portland and Seattle could play some serious catch-up)
Staff Contact: Chris Koch at email@example.com or 360-778-8349.