As prices rise, home building booms from Boise to Caldwell
The Boise Planning and Zoning Commission on Monday voted to send a proposal loosening rules on accessory dwelling units to the City Council.
Under the plan drawn up by city planners, dwellings, also known as mother-in-law houses, could expand to two bedrooms with up to 700 total square feet. Under current regulations, only one bedroom is allowed in a dwelling with 600 square feet.
It would also drop a requirement for one-bedroom units for a parking space, either on the property or on the street is unrestricted parking is allowed. A space would be required for two-bedroom units.
Accessory dwelling units come in several variations. Some are separate residences placed behind a main house and oftentimes next to an alley. They can also be crafted out of an addition to a residence, adding an apartment over a detached garage or converting an existing living area, attic or basement.
The proposal leaves in place a requirement that the landowner must live in one of the units.
It’s unclear how many owners of existing mother-in-law properties abide by that provision, Cody Riddle, the city’s deputy planning director, told the Idaho Statesman. The city sometimes learns of violations when a property is sold. Buyers are told they must follow the law, Riddle said.
Lori Dicaire, a land use advocate who started the Vanishing Boise Facebook group, told the commission she was glad the owner-occupied provision remained. However, she said the proposal does not prohibit owners from turning the additional dwelling into an Airbnb-style short-term vacation rental.
“That does not solve the housing crisis, which this change is intended to do,” Dicaire said.
Ed McLuskie, a retired Boise State University communications professor, said the city needs to beef up its code enforcement division. Developers and land owners cannot be trusted to abide by the rules voluntarily, he said.
The plan is part of the city’s larger “Grow Our City” effort, which looks to increase housing among all income ranges.
The commission voted 5-0 in favor of the proposal. Commissioner Janelle Finfrock was absent. The City Council is expected to hold a public hearing on the proposa sometime in the next several weeks.