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Planners ask the public what they want in accessory dwelling units, smaller residences that address need for 'missing middle'

TIMES PHOTO: RAY PITZ - Schuyler Warren, an associate planner with the City of Tigard, talks about changing demographics and the citys plan to amend the citys development code to allow for accessory dwelling units, also known as ADUs, during an open house at Tigard Public Library Wednesday night.The City of Tigard is pushing forward with plans to offer a wider variety of housing options for current and future residents, specifically addressing so-called "missing middle" housing.

On Wednesday evening, an estimated 40 people gathered in the Tigard Public Library's community room to hear the city's plans to implement an Oregon law that now requires cities throughout the state to allow a variety of options when it comes to building "accessory dwelling units," or what's known as ADUs in planning circles. Other types of missing middle housing include cottages, courtyard units and row houses.

Oregon Senate Bill 1051 mandates that cities must provide "clear and objective" standards to allow accessory dwelling units without mentioning requirements pertaining to other missing middle housing. While the city won't be able to have new code language up and running by the July deadline, planning officials say they are moving forward with the next steps to make development code amendments to allow for the structures.

While planners say they get extensive queries about ADUs from the public, they don't get a whole lot of residents who pull permits to build one. In 2017, the city approved requests for six units, while there were three approvals in 2016 and eight approvals in 2015.

Currently, the city of Tigard only allows ADUs that are attached to an existing residence, something that will now change once the new mandates are put into place.

"This is a project that will eventually alter all the neighborhoods in Tigard," said Kenny Asher, the city's community development director, who noted the lack of ADUs in the area and the high cost of single-family homes. "It is pretty bad out there."

Asher said the problem is that as prices of single-family homes continue to rise, it will make it more difficult for young people to purchase them. That in turn makes housing in the Portland-metro area "at risk of becoming only affordable to the wealthy," he said.

Schuyler Warren, an associate planner with the city, said demographic trends show a changing face of those seeking home ownership along with declining rates of people owning homes.

"We have more demand for smaller housing units," he said, adding that both the baby boomers and the millennials want to live in neighborhoods that provide high levels of "walkability" to such amenities as nearby restaurants and retail centers.

Addressing the lack of affordable single family homes in the area, Warren said while the median price for a single-family detached home is $357,261 in Beaverton, $370,047 in Hillsboro and $426,678 in Portland, that same home costs $430,869 in Tigard.

Warren said among the attributes of "missing middle" dwellings are walkability, a smaller footprint, fewer off-street parking spaces, a simpler construction (but not poorly constructed), spaces that create community and structures that are marketable.

Warren said while "missing middle" housing was popular in the 1920s, it largely was "zoned out of existence after World War II."

Suggestions from the public from the open house will now be forwarded to the Tigard Housing Options Task Force, which will look at them before forwarding recommendations to the Planning Commission and the City Council for approval by the end of the year.

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