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Portland adopts the granny flat

I’ve talked a lot about laneway housing here on Architect This City. I’m a big supporter and I wish that Toronto would get on board and formally allow them. It’s been done and it is being done in cities around the world. Just this morning, a friend of mine sent me this NY Times article talking about how Portland has embraced the “granny flat”, which is one of the many names used for this type of housing.

Within the article, you’ll find a nice slideshow of “accessory dwelling units” ranging from 300 and something square feet to 700 square feet. (800 square feet is apparently the maximum in Portland.) But what I found really interesting from the article is how quickly these homes have caught on:

Eli Spevak, a local alternative-housing developer who is among those who lobbied for A.D.U.-friendly policies, said, “The city changed two rules, and all of a sudden it went from 30 a year being built to 200 last year” — an impressive figure, considering the total number of applications approved for single-family houses in 2013 was 800.

This is a hugely impressive figure that shows that these homes are not really a niche product. Laneway homes have become a meaningful chunk of the new home market in Portland. Given that they’re a relatively affordable and sustainable option, I’m not surprised. But I am surprised that more cities aren’t following suit.

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