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Springfield seeks input on ‘accessory dwellings’

Published on December 4, 2017 3:10AM

Last changed on December 4, 2017 8:00AM

SPRINGFIELD ó Officials are asking Springfield residents to weigh in on possible code changes aimed at spurring the construction of smaller, more affordable houses across the city.

The Springfield City Council is holding a hearing Monday to gauge the publicís interest in incentives to build accessory dwelling units.

Accessory dwelling units are second, smaller homes on properties on which a house already has been built, either attached to the existing house or elsewhere on a single lot.

Accessory units are rare in Springfield. The city has issued just seven building permits for accessory dwelling units since 2006, city spokeswoman Amber Fossen said.

But the city took the first step to encourage them in July, temporarily waiving system development charges, fees levied on most construction projects to raise money for major long-term citywide public infrastructure work such as new streets, major sewage lines and parks. No one has used the waiver to date, Fossen said.

The waiver runs through June 2019. The city estimates that the waiver would reduce the cost of building an accessory dwelling unit by $5,000 to $6,000. Mondayís hearing comes as the city mulls additional steps to encourage accessory dwelling units. Steps could include allowing the units in areas zoned for medium- and high-density residential development, instead of the current restriction to low-density residential lots.

Other changes could include allowing the units in the cityís Washburne Historic District north of downtown, where they arenít currently allowed, no longer requiring the propertyís owner to live on the site and relaxing certain design standards for the new units.

The hearing comes amid a yearlong discussion by the City Council about boosting the supply of affordable housing, as rising rents and home prices have tightened Springfieldís housing market.

Under Springfieldís rules, accessory dwelling units can range from 300 to 720 square feet and canít be more than 40 percent of the size of the primary house on the property.

The cost to build one varies widely, depending on size, quality and whether it is attached to the primary house.

In 2014, median construction costs for accessory dwelling units in Portland were $65,000, according to a state Department of Environmental Quality green-building survey.

The median-priced single-family house in Springfield is worth about $144,000, according to Lane County Assessment and Taxation figures.

The City Council isnít expected to vote on any of the proposed changes Monday.

Follow Elon Glucklich on Twitter @EGlucklich . Email .


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