Chicago may allow more granny flats amid affordability crisis

The Urban Land Institute is working with Alderman Harry Osterman to draft an ordinance that would loosen zoning restrictions around accessory dwelling units

Jan.January 20, 2020 10:30 AM
Alderman Harry Osterman (48th) and a coach house in Dunning (Credit: Zillow)

Alderman Harry Osterman, chairman of the Committee on Housing and Real Estate; and a coach house in Dunning (Credit: Zillow)

Chicago doesn’t love accessory dwelling units, but it may need them to help combat the city’s growing affordable housing problem.

ADUs — also called coach houses or granny flats — are living spaces that are separate from the main living space in the home, and there are an estimated 2,400 in Chicago. Still, city zoning officials strongly dislike them, and have previously prevented further construction of the units.

But with the city facing a crisis of affordability, the Urban Land Institute is looking into whether expanding the number of ADUs could be one of the solutions, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.

The group has a task force dedicated to studying ADUs and hopes to draft an ordinance for Alderman Harry Osterman later this month, the Sun-Times reported. Osterman is chairman of the Council’s Committee on Housing and Real Estate.

In California — which has its own massive affordable housing crisis — Gov. Gavin Newsom in October bestowed a level of legitimacy on ADUs, when he signed a bill that cuts the red tape on converting garages and freestanding backyard homes. Proponents say it not only provides an affordable living space for the renter, but it also generates additional income for the homeowner.

Chicago, meanwhile, doesn’t track the number of ADUs, but the Urban Land Institute keeps its own records. But Mayor Lori Lightfoot may be more amenable. As part of a report her transition team. released just before she took office in May, it said the city should “consider allowing tiny homes and coach houses in zoning changes.”

If the city were to change zoning laws to allow more ADUs, the numbers could climb dramatically, advocates said. In Los Angeles, thousands of permit applications were submitted for ADUs after the governor’s October move. [Sun-Times] — Jacqueline Flynn

Related Articles

Chicago Housing Commissioner Marisa Novara and a rendering of the proposed Obama Presidential Center (Credit: The City of Chicago and the Obama Foundation)

Chicago has plan to help homeowners near future Obama Center

Ald. Andre Vasquez (40th) and 5500 N. Wolcott Ave. (Credit: Google Maps)

Ald. Vasquez says Temple Steel campus won’t give way to luxury housing

924 N. Clark Street and owner of the mansion, Rishi Shah

Revealed: What accused fraudster Rishi Shah paid for one of Chicago’s grandest mansions

Wolf Point East at 313 W. Wolf Point Plaza and Nema Chicago at 1210 South Indiana Avenue (Credit: Hines, Nema Chicago)

Over 10K new apartments could flood Downtown Chicago by 2022. But there’s a catch

Evergreen CEO Steve Rappin

Evergreen’s Steve Rappin talks affordable housing, rent control and NIMBYs

EquityBuild's Shaun and Jerome Cohen and one of the corporation's properties at 7549-7559 South Essex Avenue (Credit: Google Maps)  

Ponzi scheme fallout: South Side has thousands of distressed apartments

Chairman and CEO of Taylor Morrison Sheryl Palmer and Townhouses at Riverbank Crossing in Geneva

With Chicago area home sales down, homebuilder Taylor Morrison is out

Co-founder, President and CEO of CLK Properties Craig Koenigsberg, Heritage Village Pointe in Des Plaines (Credit: Google Maps)

CLK Properties closes on massive condo deconversion in Des Plaines