Staff balks at waiving fees for affordable ADUs

Cicely Fleming.

City staff will ask aldermen Tuesday to reject a suggestion from Alderman Cicely Fleming, 9th Ward, that the city waive building permit fees for coach houses and other accessory dwelling units if owners agree to rent them at discounted rates.

In a memo, Housing and Grants Administrator Sarah Flax says the fee waiver wouldn't be enough to provide sufficient incentive for a property owner to agree to rent at an affordable housing rate. In addition, she says, the permit fees are designed to recover the city's actual cost of conducting required inspections.

Using the example of a coach house constructed last year, Flax says cutting the rent for 10 years as required under the affordability rules would cost a landlord more than $40,000 -- while the buiding permit fee for the unit amounted to just over $2,500.

The City Council on Monday changed zoning rules to encourage construction of more accessory dwelling units.

The changes include a provision that would waive an off-street parking requirement for ADUs not close enough to public transit to otherwise qualify for the waiver if the unit was rented for 10 years at a rate affordable to households earning 80 percent or less of area median income.

The fee waiver proposal is one of a half-dozen items on the Council's agenda Tuesday for its quarterly update on affordable housing issues.

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