Friday, November 11, 2011

Return of the Granny Flats

Ran into this article yesterday on how some cities across the country are now allowing for cottages to be built in the backyards of single family homes. Also known as 'granny-flats' (or carriage houses), they were more common back in the early 20th century before modern zoning codes brought an end to them. Historically built to house in-laws or other extended family, they can also be rented out if you seek to supplement your income as a property owner. You can still see many surviving backyard cottages in numerous cities ranging from Denver, to New Orleans, to Philly. According to the article, Seattle is now one of the handful of places looking to revive them as the issue of accommodating a growing population within the urban boundary comes to the forefront. A snippet from the article:

[...] "Like other mid-size cities that came of age in the first few decades of the 20th century, Seattle is made up largely of compact neighborhoods filled with single-family bungalows. Today, almost two-thirds of the city is zoned for single-family homes, so it’s harder for Seattle to accommodate its growing population -- the city swelled from 563,374 residents in 2000 to 608,660 last year -- without spreading farther and farther into the forests of the Pacific Northwest. That’s partly why the city saw backyard cottages as an attractive new alternative, a way to add affordable housing options without a wholesale redesign of the city’s signature neighborhoods."

Sounds like an idea worth looking into, imo. Increasing density at a suburban level while also allowing for a more diverse mixture of income levels and age demographics to settle in a neighborhood are the natural consequences that would come from this. Of course there will always be certain neighborhoods that would absolutley balk at the prospect of *gasp* renters moving into their hood. They certainly wont be having any of this...