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Home sweet (adjacent) home: Boise proposes loosening some ADU restrictions

In the face of a growing housing crunch in the Treasure Valley, the Boise City Council voted Tuesday to make changes to Boise City Code to loosen several restrictions on accessory dwelling units.

ADUs are second homes located adjacent to the main house on the same parcel of land. They might be over a garage or in a carriage house. This is the culmination of a process BoiseDev first reported on in the spring of 2018.

What changes

  • The maximum size of an ADU increases from 600 square feet to 700 square feet.
  • The maximum number of bedrooms increases from one to two.
  • The law no longer requires dedicated parking for single-bedroom units. For two-bedroom units, one space will be required. The parking space can be on-site or on-street, as long as it isn’t in an area that has parking restrictions.

What does not

  • The property owner must live on-site. In other words, someone who owns an investment property cannot rent out both the main house and an ADU.
  • An ADU can be used as a short term rental (aka “Airbnb”). Idaho State Code prohibits cities from regulating short term rentals in most cases.

“ADUs add a very unique form of housing that help our housing needs,” Deputy Planning Director Cody Riddle said. “It has minimal impact and very little in infrastructure needs.”

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No members of the public testified on the ADU proposal. More than 650 people weighed in during a feedback period earlier this year. The council voted unanimously to approve the changes.

“I hope that this is the first step in looking at how we maximize the land that we have,” council member Holli Woodings said. “What we are doing here is essentially allowing two dwellings on one parcel – I’d like to look at doing more things that encourage more than one dwelling on each parcel.”

“I have fond memories of my college friends having these really great ADUs,” council member Lisa Sánchez said. “Anything that we can do to minimize discrimination in fair housing – which only gets worse as we have more challenges with housing (is good).”

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