North Texas Daily

Ordinance could potentially minimize housing affordability issues in Denton

Ordinance could potentially minimize housing affordability issues in Denton

Ordinance could potentially minimize housing affordability issues in Denton
July 22
17:20 2018

The city of Denton is considering a new ordinance that could potentially minimize housing affordability issues and give students more housing options. The ordinance under consideration will allow homeowners to rent out small dwellings on their land known as Accessory Dwelling Units.

These Accessory Dwelling Units, or ADUs, go by many names — granny flats, in-law units and laneway houses — and they serve to provide another housing option for renters as opposed to more traditional options like renting an apartment or home.

Council member Deb Armintor thinks ADUs are a great way to allow housing options that are more affordable.

“I believe we have a housing affordability crisis here in Denton,” Armintor said. “Rents are very high, and wages are relatively stagnant.”

In February 2018, the Daily found that rental rates for two-bedroom apartments rose 2.9 percent in 2017. Many UNT students look for housing off campus after their freshmen year, but often find it difficult due to affordability issues. 

Students in Denton are more likely to rent apartments, but a lot of their money goes to other expenses such as paying for their college education. 

A double occupancy room at Maple, Clark, Kerr, Crumley, McConnell or Bruce costs $5,830 per occupant for nine months, according to UNT housing rates, which have also risen by 27 percent in the last 4 years in some cases. The average two-bedroom apartment in Denton costs $1,154 per month.

Armintor said she lived in an ADU while she was a graduate student in Houston and found it to be small but cheap and perfect for her needs. She said her granny flat — which was a little shack converted from a maid’s quarters,— was a lifesaver at that time. 

Ron Menguita, the long-range planning administrator for Denton, said some ADU’s are already in practice in some zoning districts.

One aspect of the Denton 2030 plan is to look at how to expand ADUs and the best way to implement them.

“If there are more areas that are suitable for these, then we would encourage it,” Menguita said.

Armintor said there is a lot of community support and little opposition to ADU’s, which leads her to believe an ordinance is likely. Armintor does think there needs to to be clear guidelines between the homeowner and renter to avoid any conflicts if the ordinance is adopted.

Homeowners are in charge of setting the cost of rent and providing rules for renters.

“It takes a practice that has already been happening to a certain extent and recognizes it,” Armintor said. “It opens up the opportunity for renters to find affordable places to live and more ways for homeowners to get some extra income.”

The cost to build ADU’s ranges widely depending on the type of dwelling the homeowner wants. The size and usage are in question until the city council adopts the ordinance and makes decisions on those specifics.

The city of Dallas adopted the Granny Flat Ordinance on June 27, and the size of their secondary units can range from 200 square feet to 700 square feet or be 25 percent of the main residence building size.

The ordinance was adopted, in part, because of housing affordability issues in Dallas, which sparked Denton’s interest in a similar ordinance. According to D Magazine, Dallas’ wages are stagnant and inflation has caused costs to rise. 

Menguita said ADUs could cause density issues, which could incite traffic and parking problems. Mayor Chris Watts said ADU’s in residential areas could impact neighbors in a number of ways.

“They can have some unintended consequences that can be fairly severe if we don’t think through them comprehensively,” Watts said.

Watts said he won’t take a position on ADUs until he knows more about the specifics of implementation, which are still in question. Many people think ADUs could aide the affordable housing issue, but Watts said that depends on the cost to build them and if homeowners maximize the rent.

“[My position] depends on how they are defined to meet the specific needs of Denton,” Watts said.

Featured Image: File

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Devin Rardin

Devin Rardin

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1 Comment

    BOOBOOTHEFOOL July 23, 17:21

    The problem is people are willing to pay top dollar for bed bug infested roach motels. The city should focus on bringing more jobs to Denton and reducing crime

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