Enforcing Missoula’s ADU Proposal

by jhwygirl

There is nothing that city council can do that will cause more permanent harm to any semblance of affordable housing in this valley than to approve their current rezoning of the whole city for ADU’s (Accessory Dwelling Units.)

Beyond that truth, the latest back-and-forth on this insane proposal is the question surrounding the city’s plan to require the owner of an ADU to live on premises. Questions have run the gamut of “Can the city even enforce this?” to “How would the city even enforce this?”

The Missoulian’s Keila Szpaller’s latest delves into this issue along with other very real possibilities that any reasonable entity should consider before writing something that they actually intend to enforce.

What I have said to myself over these questions the last two weeks – and this is when I really regret not having a Missoulian account with which to comment – is this: How or Could the city enforce this? They aren’t enforcing their current ordinances on ADU’s! Why would any presume that they would enforce this new everyone-can-have-one rule when they aren’t enforcing their current rules on dwelling units?

And isn’t there an inherent conflict of interest on the council for 2 or more city council people? Councilors who own and/or live in an illegal ADU?

The mere fact that their association with illegal ADU’s has been openly discussed in public meetings is proof enough of the intent of the city to enforce its owner-must-live-on-site rule. To think any different is really rather irrational.

I also can’t help but ponder the silence of affordable housing advocates. The idea that the city council is going to turn every square inch of this city into an “investment property” by doubling the density potential on single-family dwelling zoned neighborhoods is absolutely insane. Depending on the design standards they end up settling on, you can add 10-20% (at least) on top of the value of a lot in what is currently a single-family zoned area.

With a unit already built? Who knows what that’ll pull down. Oh – and you can bet that a potential ADU will be a selling point on those selling who haven’t built one yet. Add on a premium for that!

Will it be good for the city? Property values will increase because instead of buying a single family home, new buyers will be writing proforma’s to show the bank how the rental of an ADU will increase their income. This will increase the amount of property taxes collected. Is that good for the city? I guess it depends on how you look at it.

I am sitting back just shaking my head. But then again, I did that when the bailed out the ballpark. And the affordable housing project for a second time. And when they blessed the sale of our water. And when they seriously considered an Arts Center. And when they accepted an RFP from a developer who said they had to have a prime piece of real estate for free in order to make their proposal work.

Election season can’t come soon enough..

  1. lizard19

    what would it take to actually develop affordable housing in this town? is “affordable housing” just a marketing scheme to sell development projects, or an actual goal of our city’s elected officials?

    j-girl, I’m finally wrapping my head around your ADU perspective. it’s too bad those who may actually make great use of this type of development are getting wrapped up into larger self-interests.

    • In a defined sense, “affordable” is housing that costs no more than 30% of your net income. “Housing” would mean the roof over your head, heat water lights garbage sewer.

      Around these parts, as far as I can tell, I believe it is just a marketing scheme as you suggest – given that the median cost of a home far surpasses the affordable amount a person making the median wage can afford to pay. I’ve seen “affordable” townhouses and condos around this neighborhood go for $225K. It’s laughable.

  2. Buzz Feedback

    Who are the two council members with illegal ADUs?

  3. d.g.

    You hit the rusty nails right on the head (too bad it’s a metaphorical blow.) Engen is the lazy kingpin here; his “home for all” non-philosophy (first manifested in “infill”– purportedly to save development of the valley) began the inner-city real estate feeding frenzy and this ADU allowance will, indeed, subsume every last yard this poor “tree city USA” ever had. (Ironically, Missoula hosted a conference on obesity…..when kids can’t run…we blame the computer, not the mayor.) With feel-good-at-any-cost-to-get-elected alderpersons like David Strohmaier, we will continue to lie in the road for developers. ( Someday research what profit is being made on the Russell Street HUD apartments.) This ain’t about the poor or the mother-in-laws; this is about good green money. (And chances are the fellow in the Helly Hansen coat sitting beside you at a local brewery is a major investor.)

  4. Affordable on minimum wage? Camping for a nominal fee at the ballpark in the off season would be a start. I’m sure the facilities are up to code, has access to public transportation. Why build? Use what’s there, starting with those with the least.

  1. 1 Bad Irony | 4&20 blackbirds

    […] written once about this ADU proposal. My main objection is the negative impact it is going to have on affordable housing. Other issues […]

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