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For housing abundance and diverse, livable communities in Asheville

Housing Advocates Endorse NC Senate Bill to Support Accessory Dwelling Unit Construction to Address the Housing Shortage

by Asheville For All
May 25, 2023


Asheville —  Housing advocacy group Asheville For All is issuing support for Senate Bill 374, which allows for any homeowner to add an Accessory Dwelling Unit, or ADU, to a detached, single-family home.

The bill has already passed the North Carolina House with overwhelming bipartisan support. The vote was 106-7, and Asheville area representatives Eric Ager, Lindsey Prather, and Caleb Rudow all voted in favor.

Senate Bill 374 makes it easier for homebuilders and property owners to construct ADUs—sometimes called “granny flats”—by prohibiting North Carolina cities and counties from including certain restrictions in their zoning codes. For example, the bill prohibits owner-occupancy requirements and off-street parking minimums for ADUs. It also prohibits municipalities from charging permit fees for building ADUs in excess of those that would be charged for similar single-family, detached homes.

Julie Mayfield, who represents the State Senate’s 49th District in Buncombe County, is a primary sponsor of the bill.

While many cities and counties in North Carolina allow for ADUs today, some local governments place significant restrictions on their size and location. For example, in Chapel Hill ADUs are limited to 750 square feet, regardless of the size of the primary property. In Asheville, detached ADUs must be 70 percent the size of the primary property, and no more than 800 square feet. Senate Bill 374 would allow ADUs in sizes up to the square footage of the primary residence on the lot.

“When the state government tries to effect statewide solutions, that can be scary to some people,” admits Asheville For All lead organizer Andrew Paul. “But this is a common sense bill, and we’ve seen that towns and cities often need to be pushed to do the right thing when it comes to housing and land use. Local governments and their constituencies are well practiced at fighting for the status quo, one where ‘NIMBYism’ perpetuates segregation and a real crisis in affordability.”

Scott Adams, an urban planner in the Asheville area, concurs. “Any local zoning and development codes regarding tree canopy, impervious surfaces and stormwater management will still apply and they will still govern how neighborhoods look and feel,” he states. “This is about removing arbitrary barriers that constrain our state’s housing supply and prevent infill where it’s most needed.”

Recently, Asheville was designated the fourth worst market for home renters in the nation by RentCafe, which noted that an average of eleven prospective tenants vie for each rental that opens up as vacant. Experts agree that adding housing stock to communities where demand is high will mitigate rent increases and has the potential to lower rents. An increase in ADU construction is one solution to increase the number of homes in such neighborhoods.

Interested citizens can contact their state senators to ask them to support SB374 by visiting https://www.ncleg.gov/FindYourLegislators and selecting “NC Senate” from the options.

About Asheville For All

Asheville For All is a nonprofit organization that advocates for housing abundance and diverse, walkable, and affordable communities. It was established in spring of 2022. Asheville For All is a member of YIMBY Action, a nationwide pro-housing 501c4 organization with over forty-six chapters in sixteen states.

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