Bellingham Moves To Improve Housing Shortage With New ADU Approval

Dated: 05/10/2018

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Image titlePhoto by: Radcliffe Dacanay

Bellingham council has made a decision on a well-debated topic in our city: ADUs. Many neighborhoods are in opposition of the addition of ADUs, citing parking issues, increased traffic, noise and public safety, while many welcome the new rules with dreams of passive income and the possibility of easing up our housing shortage in Bellingham.

The new rules, which were approved this past Monday, allow ADUs to be built or added onto properties in all residential neighborhoods of Bellingham.

What is an ADU?

According to the city of Bellingham website, an ADU is a small, self-contained residential unit located on the same lot as an existing single-family home. As the term "accessory" implies, ADUs are defined to be smaller in size and prominence than the main residence on the lot, and aid the City in providing a range of housing choices for residents. 

They are sometimes called "mother-in-law apartments" or "granny flats" because they are often used to house extended family. An ADU has all of the basic facilities needed for day-to-day living independent of the main home, such as a kitchen, sleeping area and a bathroom. 

An ADU may be created as a separate unit within an existing home (such as in an attic or basement), and addition to the home (such as a separate apartment unit with separate entrance), or in a separate structure on the lot (such as a converted garage).

What Are the New Rules?

  • ADUs can now be built on single-family zoned lots that are a minimum 5,000 square feet, which is a typical lot size in downtown neighborhoods.

  • Only one ADU allowed per primary residence

  • ADUs can now have a maximum of four occupants, and a maximum of two bedrooms.

  • Height restrictions would be reduced from 25 feet to 20 feet

  • One off-street parking space would be required for each ADU, with transportation and park impact fees waived

What are your thoughts on the new ADU rules for Bellingham? Do you think they'll help with our housing shortage or cause chaos for already crowded neighborhoods? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

Check out the City of Bellingham website for more local information on ADUs.

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