Michael Dutka 0

Montgomery County Council— pass the ADU bill now!

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We are writing to express our strong support of the pending zoning text amendment (ZTA 19-01) designed to encourage more accessory dwelling units (ADUs) here in Montgomery County. We, the undersigned, are community activists, long-time leaders in the civic and non-profit world, and citizens who are committed to working for a better, more inclusive community. We are your neighbors and your constituents and we see an urgent need for the Council to step up to the housing crisis with real solutions, including adoption of ZTA 19-01.

Housing has become much too expensive in our County. Increasing the supply of housing, at numerous price points, is necessary to curb costs and foster inclusive, diverse, equitable neighborhoods. The ADU zoning text amendment is a reasonable proposal to create more flexibility, while also setting limits on size, setback and parking.

What are the benefits of the current proposal?

ADUs promote density where infrastructure already exists, which is environmentally sound and budget-efficient, while also promoting economic and racial equity.

ADUs are beneficial to both homeowners and renters. They allow people to age in place by renting part of their home. They allow young families to buy a home they couldn't afford without an income unit. They allow families to take care of an aging parent while still providing them with autonomy. ADUs also give renters an opportunity to live in neighborhoods where couldn’t afford to buy homes. Studies of areas with a higher concentration of ADUs have shown that they bring rent costs down and promote racial and economic integration.

The proposal (ZTA-19-01) has been the subject of public meetings, a public hearing, and has been modified by the Council’s Planning Housing Economic Development Committee (PHED) in response to community concerns. The Planning Board surveyed existing ADUs and found that they do not add additional students to schools. Each single family home adds an average of 0.465 students, slightly higher than the 0.464 student average for single family homes with an ADU."

It is important to note that County Executive Marc Elrich’s Transition Committee noted that our significant problems with housing can be traced to several factors, including “lack of diversity in our housing stock...limited availability of certain types of homes that fit into affordability bands of County residents” and also “structural racism that inhibits development of affordable housing in many areas of the county and is often manifested by… NIMBYism and gentrification.” We agree with this assessment.

Tackling this problem will require creativity and numerous approaches, and requires rejecting misinformation and scare tactics.

The Elrich Transition Team was thoughtful in its recommendation to modify current rules to allow for the creation of more ADUs. Specifically, the report states that the County should “Implement policies to expand the supply of Accessory Dwelling Units... including reducing Home Owner Association restrictions on ADUs”. We agree with this recommendation.

This common-sense bill has the support of groups with significant expertise in housing and smart growth, including housing for vulnerable populations-- Affordable Housing Conference of Montgomery County, AARP, Commission on Aging, Sierra Club,Coalition for Smarter Growth, Action in Montgomery, Montgomery County Planning Board, Habitat for Humanity, Housing Initiative Partnership, Maryland Building Industry Association and the League of Women Voters. The Takoma Park City Council also endorsed the proposal unanimously and an official with the Town of Brookeville testified to their long and successful history with ADUs.

We strongly urge you to give your support to the ZTA 19-01, in its current form, as recommended by the PHED Committee.

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