Alan Durning of the Sightline Institute continues his series on ADUs (accessory dwelling units) with a survey of what’s happening elsewhere in Cascadia – here comparing B.C. cities with those in Washington and Oregon:
Most other Cascadian cities appear to trail behind Vancouver, BC, in the ADU leagues. In British Columbia, Abbotsford, Kelowna and other cities have embraced ADUs with at least a portion of Vancouver’s conviction. The mid-sized city of New Westminster stands out in particular: it already had more than 2,400 ADUs a decade ago.
In the Nothwest states, however, ADUs remain rare. Consider Portland, widely regarded as a US hotspot of miniature houses (so much so that there’s even a Portlandia-style spoof circulating online).
Martin Brown, a small-house pioneer in Portland who has studied their real-estate value and maintains a field-leading website, surveyed his city’s records a few years ago. He looked for permitted accessory units and found, among 148,000 lots in eligible zones, just 431 actual secondary dwellings. That’s 0.3 percent of houses. The count, he guesses, may have risen to 500 or 600 by now, and he has elsewhere estimated that Portland has 2.5 times as many unpermitted as permitted ADUs. Still, altogether, they are likely found at little more than 1 percent of all single-family houses in Portland.