Homeowners with so-called “in-law” apartments now have a path to legalize those units. On Monday night, the City Council unanimously approved an Accessory Dwelling Units (ADU) ordinance allowing for in-law apartments in single-family homes, provided they are brought up to code.
“The ordinance is pretty straightforward,” said Ward 4 Councillor Patrick Keefe. “I think it is something that is absolutely necessary to legitimize some of the houses in the city.”
City Planner Frank Stringi said single-family homeowners would also be able to create new ADUs within their homes, provided they follow strict regulations and have the units inspected by the city.
“There are a lot of restrictions in that they cannot add on to the house, and there are restrictions regarding parking and home ownership,” said Stringi.
But he said the homeowners have the ability to build a small ADU that is no more than 600 square feet with one bedroom for family members or additional rental income if they meet all the requirements.
“We’ve heard horror stories as councillors from people who went to sell their homes in the city and they were forced to tear out bathrooms or kitchens,” said Ward 6 Councillor Richard Serino.
Stringi said one of the catalysts for the ordinance was that the Inspectional Services Department was requiring a lot of kitchens in in-law apartments to be torn out upon the sale of properties.
Councillor-at-Large Dan Rizzo said the ordinance was long overdue, noting that many homes received occupancy permits as a legal two-family decades ago only to have the city deem them illegal when the owners went to sell them.
Rizzo said he had some concerns about the parking requirements in the ordinance, but the ordinance was eventually passed as written. ADUs within a half mile of a public transit stop do not need an additional parking spot, but those outside that line need one additional spot. However, the ordinance does allow for tandem off-street parking to provide that extra parking space.
City Council President Gerry Visconti said he was in favor of the ordinance for multiple reasons, including the potential to increase affordable housing in the city.