Now you might remember a few weeks back some of the controversy over Granny Houses, two words that had thrown the Downtown Investors Club into a dangerous fit of St. Vitus Syndrome. These humble buildings were being put forward by some of the more thoughtful persons in town as a solution to the low income housing problem our friends at SCAG had so thoughtfully hung around our necks. With Sacramento enforced RHNA numbers to make the gift just that much sweeter and endearing.
Now, of course, those who had planned to use our RHNA predicament as a way of squeezing high-density development into our quaint little burgh were aghast at the suggestion. And, with their hired cutout Karen Warner leading the way, proclaimed that Granny Houses would never be acceptable to the uber diktatoren in Sacramento, and therefore we must bow to their will and obey lest they send in the tanks.
But would you believe that Granny Housing is fast becoming a solution to similar problems all over the country? And as people wake up to the notion that high-density multi-unit SCAG monstrosities are just not the way to go in more traditional villages such as ours, they are turning more and more to, you got it, Granny Housing. And if you go to Google and type in those two little words, you'll see pages and pages of articles on just how great a solution they are to some of the problems people and cities are now facing.
In other words, Granny Houses have now become cool.
The article the Planetizin Newswire pointed me to (which led me to all those other articles on Google) is entitled "Add-ons vs. Scrapeoffs." And since it spells out the case so nicely, I thought I'd post a few paragraphs for you to check out. Please note that "carriage houses" and "granny houses" are meant to be taken as being the same thing.
"A group of Denver residents believe the city's new zoning code should allow for the building of so-called carriage houses. Following implementation of the old code 53 years ago, city officials did away with residents' ability to build what are known as accessory dwelling units. The structures carry several different names, including carriage houses and granny flats, named so because many families build them to house their aging relatives ... But as city officials are preparing to finalize the new zoning code - a draft was released at the beginning of June - a group called Friends of Granny are pushing for the right to once again build carriage houses ... Bob Sperling, leader of the Friends of Granny group, says the issue is about choice. As he watches duplexes built around him in Platt Park, he wonders if accessory dwelling units are a way to preserve single-family houses, either connected or detached from their homes, he says ... 'I believe in preserving Denver's single-family housing,' said Sperling.'One of the ways of doing that, and to cut down on slash and burn by outside speculators buying up property, bulldozing it and putting up duplexes, is to build accessory dwelling units.' ... The group acknowledges that there is some resistance from homeowners in the community who might not like the side effect of carriage houses: the possibility of an influx of renters in their neighborhoods as carriage-house owners rent out the accessory units ... But after more than three years of pushing city officials and being out in the public eye, Sperling says only a handful of opponents have raised the caution flag. He also points out that there are already at least 3,000 carriage houses in the city, grandfathered in following implementation of the old code."
The article goes on to discuss more specifics, and I recommend you punch the link and check it all out. But you see? We are not the only community that is pushing the concept, and try as they might to shoot this down, it is really the D.I.C. and their greenhouse gas emitting big ugly box building preferences that have fallen behind the times.
At the end of this article they reprinted some of the comments that had been left on the web version. One in particular, written by someone calling herself Granny, warmed my heart.
"Charlie Busch of the West Wash Park Neighborhood Association has been the only outspoken critic of carriage houses. In the June INC newsletter, she writes, 'It is hard to dispute that individuals enjoying their college years and young adulthood frequently have lifestyles that can be out of synch with those valued by many in our predominantly single-family areas.' That sounds like Ms. Busch would like to somehow prevent the renting of homes to young people in her neighborhood. Granny, however, believes that age and cultural diversity are qualities that help make neighborhoods great, and finds Ms. Busch's views offensive."
Granny? You can write for The Tattler any time you like.