Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs)


And the debate continues . . .


On the agenda for the Jan 8 council meeting. Emphasis is mine.

This is a text change that would create an overlay district that would allow accessory dwelling units (ADU.) The text change is the product of a petition of citizens. City staff was initially directed to perform an analysis and outreach in an effort to identify logical and meaningful regulations. Once the analysis was completed and presented to the City Council, the text change was authorized. The text change was previously reviewed by the Planning Commission with a recommendation to approve delivered to the City Council. A public hearing was conducted. At the conclusion of the public hearing, the text change was referred to a City Council committee for additional review. The City Council committee drafted a framework for enhancements to the text change; the framework is included with this item. The City Council referred this item back to the Planning Commission. The Text Change committee conducted two public meetings to discuss the text change. At the October 30, 2018 meeting, the Text Change committee recommended denial. This recommendation was based on the methodology for implementation through an overlay zoning district and requirement for neighborhood polling. At the November 13, 2018 Planning Commission meeting, concerns with the proposed language were voiced and discussed. Among those concerns were the lack of citizen support for the establishment of an overlay district, the complexity of the proposed language, the use of the balloting system, parking requirements, and the appropriate procedure for allowing and permitting ADUs. The Commission unanimously voted to refer this item to the Committee of the Whole for further discussion. At the December 5, 2018 meeting, the Committee of the Whole voted to recommend denial of the proposed text change language. With this recommendation for denial the Committee offered the following three points to the City Council when considering the adoption of any eventual ordinance:

  • The ADU ordinance should encourage a framework that supports the construction for encouraging the construction of ADUs.
  • The ADU ordinance should consider the Special Use Permit process for site specific ADUs. The Special Use permit could be reviewed by the Planning Commission.
  • After adoption of an ADU ordinance, the City should re-evaluate and reassess the regulations after an appropriate period of time.

At the December 12, 2018 meeting, the Planning Commission voted to recommend denial of the proposed text change language. At that public hearing, the Commission again offered the three points of consideration listed above. Commissioner Braun and Commissioner Geary offered alternative proposals for the allowance of accessory dwelling units and processes for their review and approval. These draft proposals are attached.

The saga continues. It seems this council is just being stubborn when it’s clear their plans have clearly lesser support.


I know a lot of you are ‘pro-ADUs’ but I live in 5 Points and own a good deal of property in the City. The ‘concept’ of ADUs sounds great but it fails because of one HUGE assumption by proponents and that is the governing of these ADUs long-term. I personally do not want any of these allowed in 5 points and will vote it down if given the choice as will 99% of my neighbors. We don’t want rental units in our neighborhoods which is what ADUs are.

You can call it whatever catchy name you want but ADUs are rentals and we know the issues that come along with rentals. We need to get off the soapbox about ‘affordable housing’ when it comes to these ADUs. There is no way the City or any governing body can regulate long-term how these ADUs are constructed or who is allowed to live there, parking concerns, etc. The City already has enough slumlords as it is to contend with, many of whom live outside the City limits (ie: Wake Forest) and couldn’t give a damn about the condition of their low income property in Raleigh…because it doesn’t affect them if there are drug dealers living there as long as they pay the rent. These issues have a material impact on property values in a NEGATIVE way.

While I know many proponents of ADUs have good intentions and if we can guarantee that every ADU would be a cute little cottage bungalow where a graduate student, writer, poet, or whatever other ‘cool tenant’ we can envision lives, great! BUT, there simply is no way to guarantee that this will be the case nor are there enough laws that would force landlords to behave in a manner we would all be comfortable having these units in our backyards. Somebody is going to F it up for everyone else and that is enough of a reason to deny the ADU.


If 99% of your neighbors will vote against it, then no ADUs will be built in your neighborhood, ya NIMBY


My biggest problem with ADUs is parking. Unlike some other cities that are trying to densify their cores and close-in neighborhoods, Raleigh doesn’t have the transit options that would support neighborhood densification. It will only mean that neighborhoods will become overrun with cars all over the place. Certainly the city can require off street parking with ADUs, but that will come with an impact to the environment as people cut down even more trees to park cars.
For me, this is the biggest issue that will affect quality of everyone’s lives. FWIW, I don’t live in a single family neighborhood, so this doesn’t personally affect me. While we all bemoan the towers built on parking pedestals, and low/midrise apartments built around enormous parking decks, imagine if all of those cars were fighting for street parking. Until we solve the transportation issues in the city, considering widespread ADU rights is like putting the cart before the horse.


Someone correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t see how having ADUs is any different that people renting out other properties that they own. One of the main differences is that many of them will have on-site property owners, which I think would be a positive attribute.

As far as someone governing how they’re constructed, I imagine ADUs would have to meet the same inhabitable building codes as any other home, so what would be the difference?

Slumlords will be slumlords, unfortunately. But I can’t see someone buying property in Five Points ($$$) specifically to add an ADU and turn it into a rental hell hole. Maybe some of those exist from the days that the neighborhood wasn’t quite so expensive, but now the property is far too valuable.


I don’t have much of a dog in this fight, but I will say from my only experience with an AUD I was not impressed. My cousin rented a 2 room “cottage” in East Atlanta for a few years. It was a total dump, she had issues all the time b/c it wasn’t built worth a damn. There were literally holes in the floor where you could see dirt beneath. The floor had a really bad slope (maybe a foundation issue??). The plumbing constantly froze up during the winter and she would have to go to the main house to take a shower, use the bathroom, do laundry, etc. Parking was just a bunch of cars in the front yard (there were also 2 renters in the main house). In the end, the landlord ended up coming into the cottage, unannounced, while she was in bed and that ultimately convinced her to move out a few days later.

Admittedly, I think she made a poor decision in moving there in the first place. But in a rapidly gentrifying neighborhood, this was the option she chose to stay in that particular neighborhood. I am sure not all AUDs are like this, but after visiting twice and seeing what she put up with for 2 years, I am not a fan.


I don’t there will be rampant slumlording in Raleigh, least of all Five Points. Because ADUs are usually built and managed by the property owner (who, assuming they live on the property, has a strong interest in keeping conditions in the unit and neighborhood good) there shouldn’t be any issues with this.


I agree it’s not an affordable housing fix. 100% agree.

Yes, ADUs are basically a smaller house so all building codes apply. Replace “ADU” in your comments with “house” and the concerns are the same. If a place is falling into disrepair then the city inspections need to be notified, that’s what they are for.

Parking still applies to the same argument as having more “homes” nearby. Or is it just more people nearby that need cars? What’s next, regulate the amount of people that can live in an area? What if one house has 4 children that one day come to driving age? It’s all an attack on people’s right to how they allocate their space.

And what is really the difference between an ADU and a house extension?

From what I’m seeing Five Points homes are being demolished and rebuilt for larger ones. An ADU would allow for more space while possibly preserving the smaller primary home, maybe even preserving neighborhood character.

The fear is unjustified as other cities that allow them only produce a handful of units per year. Durham, with regs proponents have said we should model, builds about 15-20 per year across the entire city.

Why is Raleigh so different that if we allowed ADUs by-right that density would double overnight and renters would all turn into late-party people parking all over our lawns?


Great post. The answer to your last question.

Because Raleigh is the capital of a conservative state, full of conventional people that think inside the box


Or should you say “Inside the Beltline” HAHA!! Sorry, couldn’t resist :stuck_out_tongue:


One time I was mugged by a black dude, so now I hate black people. I’m sure some of them are nice but I’d rather stay away.


Just look at the front yards of houses in Hialeah Leo for the concern of adding more residences to an already developed piece of property. It’s like the whole city is paved over and there aren’t any lawns left. Do we really want cars parked on every square inch possible? In places like Five Points, it’s not like the houses are spread out and there is lots of land and curbside to accommodate all the new cars.
Of course you are correct that families may add cars as children age into driving, but those children also don’t stay at home forever. They grow up and move out. That said, most neighborhoods have “that family” that seems to liter their property and adjacent public curb with way too many cars. Do we really want more of that?
I am all for densification in our city, but I think it should be done in context of its impacts, and I just don’t see the city as ready for a widespread right of ADUs for property owners when there are so many factors to consider. I would, however, support a case by case process for those who would like to apply so that the city can consider and them individually on their own merits and their impacts to their respective communities.


To a certain extent, I agree that the transit needs to be in place or else it’s another Hialeah, which I don’t think really has any transit or it’s just not used. The built environment has caused that kind of pavement hell.

I just don’t see why taking regulations similar to peer cities and applying it here bringing this new wave of problems we didn’t have before.

Now we’ve mentioned Five Points, downtown proper, my neighborhood in East Raleigh but what about the R-2, R-4 districts in the suburbs. Would ADUs here really be much of an impact as the houses are spread apart so much compared to the mixed-use and R-10 neighborhoods? Maybe we could start there first.


Nickster is supporting my point with his “real world” experience. Thank you. For those still pushing ADUs, how many of you actually own real estate?


That’s the sort of contextual conversation that needs to happen. Certainly there are lots of in-town neighborhoods that can adequately accommodate more cars that ADUs will bring. In fact, in some sought-after mature neighborhoods, some sizable lots are even subdivided into two or more parcels to build new houses.
My apologies to those that don’t understand the Hialeah reference. For those unfamiliar, much of Hialeah is completely paved over with MANY front yards becoming giant concrete parking lots. It’s a close-in burb of Miami and very densely populated in essentially/relatively a transit desert.


I get the Hialeah reference, but isn’t the paving and parking something the city could potentially control? My property has a riparian buffer running across the front of it, so I’ve learned a lot about stormwater impacts and how you have to get variances, etc. to even just move soil in that area. I’d think that there are rules governing impervious surfaces on residential lots of any sort, especially if a certain percentage of the property is being paved.

I suspect most of the stuff in Hialeah is unpermitted, and I also just think no one cares.


Yes the maximum impervious surface allowable is typically 30% of total land area, which would absolutely apply to ADU roof tops. A new site plan showing total proposed impervious surface would have to be approved by environmental before building permit could be issued for an ADU.

Tangent: I know the city has some programs for stormwater, like a cost sharing program for installing runoff improvements if you’re in watersheds of the little branches that run through the city.


And one can argue that this would either push the additional cars to the street, or people just parking in dirt or on lawns. Either way, it’s not desirable.


I guess I need to contribute to this thread. I find two things very interesting about the Anti ADU by right thoughts.
#1. It is based on a possible “flooding” of ADU’s that is just not going to happen. If you want to know what it would look like in Raleigh, don’t look to Hialeigh (which is duplexs in Garner, which lots of lots in Raleigh could already add but are not) Look at Durham and Trinity Heights. Comparisons to Durham are based in reality comparisons to what “might happen” are based on conjecture and fear. We literally live right next to another city with by right ADU’s that is not having any problems with it. Why do people think are different from Durham? I get frustrated when it is presented as a flood of ADU’s when citywide, by right, will probably get us 12-15 a year across the city. Summary: not a big deal in Durham, let’s copy them and have it not be a big deal here.

#2. Parking and Transit. We have a problem with requiring parking and wide roads to make sure it is as easy as possible for people not to use public transit. I sold my car, take the bus, and share 1 car with my wife. However, our home is still required to have 2 parking spots and we have lots of street parking. Instead of being worried about parking we should be worried about how to get people out of cars, and into different mobility. Jeff Speck and Donald Shoup have good thoughts on this.

#3, Renters. My parents first bought a house when they were in their 40s and I was 10. Mom was a social worker, dad was a minister who did construction on the side. When people say renters are bad I think about my parents, myself, and my little sister in 1995, and I think we were pretty good for the neighborhood. I also think there is some strange thinking around the idea we can regulate renters out of existence. ~50% Raleigh will be renters for the foreseeable future with or without ADU’s. Is the goal to regulate them out of certain neighborhoods and is that good?