More and more cities throughout the United States and Canada are relaxing zoning codes to permit multiple dwellings on a single lot. Planners prefer these “accessory units” because they direct growth to already developed land and infrastructure, thus reducing the cost of city services. Such dwellings are smaller and cheaper, too, assisting city officials in their efforts to create more affordable housing. In late 2012, for instance, Salt Lake City passed an ordinance to allow accessory units within a half mile of the city’s two dozen light-rail stations. Planners in Washington, D.C., meanwhile, are recommending giving owners that already have an accessory structure in place the right to rent it out without zoning approval. For its part, Seattle has permitted backyard cottages for the past four years; and homeowners have applied to build 168 of them. Silicon Valley cities are also looking to increase the stock of affordable housing. Some have used a combination of incentives to encourage single-family homeowners to build rental units, including reducing permit fees and eliminating red tape. Now, businesses are getting into the act. Portland-based Advantis Credit Union late last year began marketing mortgages that allow homeowners to build accessory units. Finally, such home builders as Lennar Corp. are touting “multigenerational” homes that have separate quarters for a family member. | Read More