Evanston, IL – On Tuesday, September 29, 2020, Evanston City Council voted 7-0 to pass a zoning ordinance to expand opportunities citywide for accessory dwelling units (ADUs).
The ordinance legalizes attached, or internal, ADUs – basement conversions, attic conversions, and interior bump-outs. Given that the cost of construction for an attached ADU is often lower than that of a detached ADU, the zoning changes allow for lower-cost homes to be added across the Evanston community.
Terri Worman, AARP Illinois’ Associate State Director for Advocacy and Outreach, said the following about the City of Evanston’s support for ADUs:
“AARP Illinois commends the City of Evanston for its systematic expansion of the ability of its residents to consider an accessory dwelling unit as a viable housing option over the last two years. With each new addition to its zoning ordinance, the City of Evanston has recognized new ways to respond to the growing need for affordable and varied types of housing desired by its residents.”
The ordinance changes multiple definitions in the current zoning code, including that of an ADU and building lot coverage. It also reduces the number of off-street parking spaces required when adding an ADU to one’s property. Collectively, these new regulations create more flexibility for residents seeking to add a detached ADU to their property. They specifically make it easier to build ground-level, accessible housing units, which can serve older residents that want to age in-place in their community. The full ordinance, which details all zoning code amendments, is available on the City of Evanston’s website.
Through a Community Challenge grant from AARP, EDC and the City of Evanston will collaborate to describe these regulations in a forthcoming ADU guide for the general public. This digital guide will provide guidance on how to take an ADU project from start to finish, discussing topics such as zoning, financing, design, and permitting.
By allowing for more ADUs to be added “by right,” without a “special use” permit from the City of Evanston, this ordinance shifts Evanston away from exclusionary single-family zoning policies which inflate the cost of housing. As Enterprise writes in a recent research publication on ADUs, “Single-family zoning continues to dominate residential land use, contributing to persisting supply shortages and affordability challenges across the country.” Further, given the racist history of single-family zoning in American municipal governments, EDC believes that this zoning ordinance is a tangible step towards a more equity-focused municipal code.
EDC is a worker and resident-owned cooperative that designs and builds energy-efficient, affordable housing by and for our residents. We advocate for housing policies that address racial inequities and lead to a more inclusive, sustainable community.
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