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Posted on: May 26, 2022

Accessory Dwelling Units Could Provide Housing Options

At the request of the City Council, and following recommendation from the City’s 2040 Comprehensive Plan, the City Planning Commission is looking to adopt regulations that would allow Accessory Dwelling Units in Golden Valley's single-family zoning districts. Before recommendations are made, the Planning Commission is looking to gauge public opinion on the matter.

What Is An Accessory Dwelling Unit?

Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) refers to a secondary housing unit or apartment that exists on the same property as a single-family residence, either attached or detached from the primary residence. These dwellings are commonly used for housing an adult child or an aging parent(s) or for property owners to make supplemental income by renting out the unit (see image below). In nearly all cases, the ADU is smaller than the principal home, differentiating this housing type from a true duplex or twin home.

Why Is The City Looking Into This?

Golden Valley and the greater Twin Cities region are facing two challenges with its housing stock, says Myles Campbell, Golden Valley city planner.

“First, the region is experiencing a shortage in all types of housing, which has contributed to increased costs when buying a home,” says Campbell. “ADUs can offer young adults and couples the chance to rent in Golden Valley and experience amenities of living in a single-family neighborhood while saving money for a future mortgage and down payment.”

“Second, based on census data, residents over the age of 65 make up more than 20 percent of Golden Valley’s population,” Campbell continues. “For some seniors, a single-family home no longer fits their lifestyle or health needs, but they prefer to remain in the communities where they have built relationships with family and neighbors. ADUs offer a unique alternative to larger, assistive housing options for seniors who want to stay in Golden Valley.”

What Are The Challenges?

While not every single-family property will be eligible for an ADU due to lot size or the home’s characteristics, amending the City’s zoning code to allow these units can present its own particular challenges, such as:

  • increasing the density of neighborhoods
  • increasing parking demands and the number of vehicle trips on local roads
  • being very expensive to build, especially in the case of detached units
  • requiring new restrictions on sale of property to avoid splitting ownership or displacing renters
  • having a visual impact in the rear yards of single-family properties, especially for detached units

In most cases, these challenges can be planned for via regulations like size restrictions and proximity to property lines.

How Do You Feel About ADUs?

Before making a recommendation to the City Council, the Planning Commission is asking residents to take a survey in order to gather information regarding public knowledge, need, and opinion on ADUs.

Learn more on the ADU web page on the City website. Take the ADU survey by July 1, 2022.

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