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ADU 4 U? Spokane Councilwoman wants fees waived for attached units

UPDATED: Tue., Oct. 26, 2021

Kinnear  (COLIN MULVANY)
Kinnear (COLIN MULVANY)

It’s “small scale,” but it’s something.

Spokane City Councilwoman Lori Kinnear introduced a proposal Monday that would eliminate fees for certain property owners who build an accessory dwelling unit, such as what is commonly referred to a “mother-in-law” apartment.

“Right now we’ve got skilled labor shortages, we’ve got supply shortages, so this might be something that is doable because it’s such a small scale,” Kinnear said.

The fee waiver would only apply to homeowners who live within a half-mile of one of the city’s designated “centers and corridors,” areas where it already has incentives for housing and commercial density.

The fees waived under Kinnear’s proposal would amount to an estimated $5,100 for someone looking to build an accessory dwelling unit valued between $50,000 and $100,000.

The fees would be waived under a three-year pilot program adopted under an ordinance by the City Council.

The proposal has yet to be placed on the council’s agenda for a vote. It was introduced on Monday during a meeting of the council’s Public Infrastructure and Environmental Sustainability Committee.

The proposal comes as city leaders look for solutions to the city’s ongoing housing crisis. In July, Mayor Nadine Woodward declared a housing emergency on the same day the City Council approved a Housing Action Plan.

The city receives applications for about 10 to 12 accessory dwelling units per year, Kinnear said.

“I’m hoping that we can get this going and see if we can get some movement on smaller places to live,” Kinnear said.

Councilman Michael Cathcart said he was not opposed to the concept but questioned what impact the proposal would have given the small window around centers and corridors, as well as a city law that requires the ADU owner to live on the property.

“There’s other regulations that will have to be in place for us to see an uptick,” Cathcart said.

Kinnear said the intent of the proposal was to encourage density near the city’s centers and corridors because they have the infrastructure to handle it.

“We have to be mindful of residential streets and the capacity that they have right now and not overload,” Kinnear said.

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