City of Tacoma ADU Ordinance
Well 253, we have an exciting transition in an ordinance here in the City of Tacoma regarding Accessory Dwelling Units (ADU’s). As of May 1st, 2019, the amended ordinance No. 28576 will go into effect. The City of Tacoma’s real estate market is low on inventory and affordable housing. If we keep building homes in our rural areas, the existing land becomes scarce, and we will lose opportunity to grow, raise and eat local food. But the need for affordable and safe living increases as our population grows.
Adding ADU’s in my neighborhood? What? This will not be an easy mind shift to make in our belief system. Who wants their neighbor to add a small apartment over their garage to look down into their yard? Who wants more noisy renters and their cars in their neighborhood? What if the neighbor crams an ugly little house, rents it out then moves from the community and lets it go to crap? Adding ADU’s is nothing new here. Tacoma has a successful history of ADU’s, but the restrictions were tough and often not cost effective for densifying progress.
How can this amended ordinance help now? This is an opportunity to be mindful, looking towards the future and how your community and your family will be affected by the rising costs of living and the increasing risk for the next generations to not own a home. The City of Tacoma is a community comprised and built by several generations. These proud Tacoman’s have created a strong, resilient community. They have been through tough times, and without a doubt their loyalty runs deep here in the South Puget Sound. Our working-class community needs affordable living opportunities and we need them to remain living here!
The City of Tacoma has created a “no excuse” for its property owners by loosening up some requirements. They listened to their citizens and agreed with the benefits of amending the existing ADU ordinance. Property owners who choose to gently densify by adding small ADU’s will be contributing to fill a need to a future problem; a gap between the haves and the have nots.
Our citizens are proud, gritty and full of Tacoma pride, they love living AND working here - the City is making it more convenient to do so. A paradigm benefit shift: If you are considering retiring or becoming an empty nester living in the City of Tacoma? Or maybe your monthly expenses are increasing due to life changes, health, higher taxes, etc.? This amended ordinance creates an opportunity to create a long-term plan for these life transitions. Adding an ADU can provide income to help stabilize the future to remain living on your property and in the community that you feel safe in, allowing you to continue to invest in neighborly relationships. By considering an ADU, this provides the flexibility to move when the need or want arises. You can scale down and move into the ADU, rent out the main home, lock and go travel before it’s too late! By choosing your new neighbor (renting the main home) you get to introduce and connect them to the neighbors, other community minded citizens, resulting in a positive contribution to the society you have invested in. This new neighbor/renter will feel more obligation and committed to maintain your investment, will actively become part of their new community and will further cultivate localized relationships.
Another paradigm shift to consider: We do not choose our family or predict when they will need help. This does open the reluctant discussion for families to reconsider their living situation with their elders. If an elder owns their home and cannot afford stay or move… or likely does not want to leave; this may provide a solution to combine living in the same foot print but not in the same walls. By adding an ADU that compliments an aging lifestyle, the elder can move in with their pet, keep some independence by continuing their social life in their church, library or community center. It does offer affordable care and some relief for the family by saving time and money by living on the same parcel.
Gently densifying our city will hopefully continue a productive, caring and prospering community for everyone to call home and feel they have a safe place to live. We need to create more space and offer affordable housing for our Tacoma citizens. With the housing bubble, some are beginning to get priced out of the community they helped create. These are the folks who have taken risks on implementing new ideas, businesses, restaurants that has revitalized our community. This creative spirit started some time ago, and is now attracting new businesses and jobs. They are now giving back by volunteering and donating. They have managed to keep the arts inclusive for all to learn and enjoy. They share unconditionally, by assisting the local shelters, food banks and churches who continue to provide much needed services to our citizens who have fallen on tough times. They are our educators and our students who have the advantage of higher learning just a short commute away. We need these participating citizens to own, rent and continue to inspire Tacoma pride!