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COOS BAY -- Coos Bay City Council held a public hearing Tuesday night to adopt an ordinance to allow accessory dwelling units on local properties.

In July 2018, a state mandate was enacted that said homeowners could develop a second structure on their property as an accessory dwelling unit.

The difference between a duplex or triplex and an accessory dwelling unit is that duplexes and triplexes are often connected as a single structure. Accessory dwelling units are separate structures.

“They need to meet the basic minimum requirements of a residence under structural code," said Rodger Craddock, Coos Bay city manager. "In this case, what the state is saying is that even if you have a zone that says you can only have a single family residence, under state law you can have another unit. In essence a second house on the same lot."

The state has now tasked cities and counties of a certain size with adopting reasonable standards for accessory dwelling units or adopt the state standards for the units.

What the council adopted Tuesday night was that homeowners can have an accessory dwelling unit up to 1,000 square feet or smaller. If the main dwelling unit is smaller than 1,000 square feet, owners may develop an accessory dwelling unit up to 70 percent the size of the main dwelling unit.

“So for example if you had a 1,000 square foot home, your accessory unit couldn’t be bigger than 700 square feet,” Craddock said.

Another requirement the council added is that homeowners who develop an accessory dwelling unit must also provide off-street parking for that unit.

“The idea is that the people living in these units have a place to park, because out on the curb front is public parking. Anyone can park there,” Craddock said.

Accessory units developed in Coos Bay will also not be able to be used as vacation rentals per the city’s conditions.

“There has to be a deed restriction that says the accessory dwelling will not be used for short term rentals. The accessory dwelling unit wasn’t meant to increase vacation rentals, it was meant to provide housing,” Craddock said.

Accessory dwelling units are allowed to share utility costs with the main dwelling unit on the property.

It’s uncertain how many properties will take advantage of the new rules surrounding accessory dwelling units. A number of homes that already had these type of units will be able to bring them into compliance with new mandates, which will make it easier to sell their homes should they choose to sell.

“Some could be people that have already illegal converted homes to have accessory dwelling units, and now will be able to bring their unit into compliance," Craddock said. "The reality is that when you had an accessory unit that wasn’t lawful it had an impact on your ability to sell it."

Craddock said that he thinks Coos Bay homeowners will look to develop accessory units on their properties, but he’s not sure how much of an impact it will have on the city’s housing problem.

“We’ve received a number of inquiries about it, and I think we have four or five that are currently going through the process…I think we’ll see some, how many is still unknown. Either way I think it helps the housing market,” Craddock said.

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Nicholas A. Johnson can be reached at 541-266-6049, or by email at nicholas.johnson@theworldlink.com.

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