Tuesday, October 22, 2013
John Infranca (Suffolk) has posted Housing Changing Households: Regulatory Challenges for Micro-Units and Accessory Dwelling Units (Stanford Law & Policy Review) on SSRN. Here's the abstract:
existing stock of affordable rental housing falls significantly short of
the need in many areas of the country. In addition, available housing
frequently does not match the specific needs of prospective tenants,
which have changed as household sizes shrink, more people are living
alone, and people are living longer. This misalignment has been
exacerbated by regulatory environments that have not kept pace with
evolving housing demands. Likely as a result, cities throughout the
country have seen an increase in illegal housing units – units that do
not conform to zoning or building codes and may not provide safe living
environments. In response to these and other concerns, a number of
jurisdictions have altered regulations to permit the development of more
compact rental housing units, including both accessory dwelling units
and micro-units. Developers have also shown significant interest in
both kinds of units.
Prior studies of these unit types concentrate on a single jurisdiction or a small number of neighboring jurisdictions and discuss accessory units, but not micro-units – which raise distinct regulatory issues. No comprehensive study has examined the feasibility of developing both types of compact housing units in a range of jurisdictions. This Article provides a detailed analysis of the regulatory and other challenges to developing both types of units, focusing on five cities: New York; Washington, D.C.; Austin; Denver; and Seattle. It places these regulatory challenges in the context of broader demographic shifts and changing conceptions of the home and the relation between public and private spheres. It argues that jurisdictions should avoid considering micro-units – which have received considerable attention in the past few years – in isolation from other forms of housing, including ADUs. Both unit types have the potential to further urban infill goals, provide individuals with access to particular neighborhoods or proximity to other individuals, reduce energy consumption, and deliver new sources of affordable housing. They also serve distinct segments of the same changing spectrum of household compositions. Cities seeking to encourage development of these unit types must carefully consider how a range of regulations pose challenges to their development.
This Article, which will be published in an issue of the Stanford Law & Policy Review examining Urban Law and Policy, derives from the author’s work on a broader research agenda on regulatory and other issues related to ADUs and micro-units conducted by the Furman Center for Real Estate & Urban Policy at New York University.