A proposed bill is under consideration in the state legislature that would allow accessory dwelling units (ADUs) to be constructed on lots already containing a dwelling.
This bill would legalize basement apartments, garage-to-housing conversions, single room occupancy units and, in some cases, allow small houses to be built on a property already containing a home. Other configurations may also be possible.
This bill is meant to address the need for more affordable housing in New York. An ADU would have to provide sleeping, cooking, and sanitation accommodations just like a regular home.
There is a concern that accessory dwelling units (ADUs) will have a negative impact on the quality of life of some neighborhoods.
How many ADUs will be allowed on a property? How many people will be allowed to reside on one property before safety, health issues and fire concerns are compromised?
Since an ADU will not require onsite parking, where will additional ADU residents park when parking is so difficult already in many neighborhoods? Will city agencies like the Department of Buildings (DOB) have the resources to inspect ADUs to ensure they comply with all building regulations and safety issues?
How will the infrastructure be affected by the increased number of ADU residents? Will schools be able to absorb the increase in new students?
All of these concerns must be taken into account.
The rollout of this legislation has not been transparent; few people are even aware of it.
ADUs, especially converted basement apartments, may pose safety hazards for those who inhabit them. The several tragic flood-related deaths following the rain from the remnants of Hurricane Ida were shocking to all.
With the prediction that these heavy rains will become more commonplace due to climate change, how can we guarantee that these tragedies will not be repeated in the future?
Yes, most of the basement apartments where the deaths occurred were illegal. However, how can we be sure DOB will be able to monitor additional “legal” ADU basement apartments in the future, when they can not keep up with monitoring the illegal ones at present?
I understand that there is action being taken to modify the bill, however, will it be enough to guarantee the safety and health of those who live in ADUs, as well as those who live near them?
Many of these ADUs would presently be illegal based on current zoning in many neighborhoods. What happens to lower-density zoning districts, including single-family districts, if the ADU legislation is passed?
It seems they will become relics of the past.
Is this fair to residents who invested their life savings into buying a property because they desired some space between themselves and their neighbors?
We understand that there is a need for more affordable housing in our city, and that we must help the homeless find permanent housing as well. We know that many new apartment buildings require affordable housing units.
The problem is that there are not enough of those units and they are not really affordable to most working-class people. Wouldn’t it seem logical to address this situation by requiring developers to build more truly affordable units?
That is one possible way to help alleviate the current housing problem.
The impact on community life if ADUs are built does not seem to concern the proponents of the bill. Now is the time to contact your elected leaders to give your opinions regarding ADUs in your neighborhood.
Henry Euler is a resident of Bayside.