Borough to Consider Accessory Dwelling Unit Code

Kayla Desroches/KMXT
Granny flats, in-law suites, sidekicks – these are synonyms sometimes used for accessory dwelling units, which Kodiak residents may see more of in the near future.

The Kodiak Island Borough is considering changing its code in order to list accessory dwelling units as permitted use. That means a property owner could rent the room over their garage or even allow a person to build a small house on their land. The code change is one solution to Kodiak’s housing shortage.

At the Kodiak City Council’s work session last night, Alan Schmitt, who holds a city seat on the Planning and Zoning Commission, explained the recent code changes are in part a reaction to the Jackson Mobile Home Park closure. However, he said that’s not the only event that inspired action.

“You may recall in the holiday season 2014 when Trident Seafoods bought Kodiak Plaza, and people were getting eviction notices there, so there were a number of people there who became homeless, if you will, or had to find a place to live, and then that was compounded or amplified significantly by the closure of Jackson Mobile Home.”

Schmitt also explained how permitting accessory dwelling units would interact with zoning.  

“There’s misinformation about that. It is not a rezone. Had the borough attorney take a look at it. It’s just a change in a particular use that’s permitted throughout the various zoning district.”

Which means that the ordinance would not change a property from R1 to R2 designation for example, which is a single family residential district versus a duplex residential district.

Bob Pederson is the Kodiak Island Borough community development director and explained to KMXT how the code stands with respect to multiple inhabitants on one plot of land.

“Currently the concept of accessory dwelling units is not anywhere in the Kodiak Island Borough code. So, the way the code is structured you can have one dwelling unit on a piece of property, or if it’s zoned duplex, you can have a duplex – a two family dwelling – not two separate dwelling units. Or in multi-family, you can have apartments or groups of apartment buildings.”

He also explained how ADU status means the property owner would need to make some changes. For instance, in parking.

“To add an ADU, there would have to be four off-street parking spaces on that lot, three for the existing dwelling and one extra for the accessory dwelling unit. So, as you can imagine in a lot of parts of town, there isn’t a lot of off-street parking available, and so that could be a limiting factor on the ability of those properties to add an accessory dwelling unit.”

The Planning and Zoning Commission will discuss the proposed ordinance at its work session tonight at 6:30 p.m. in the Borough conference room. You can also attend the regular meeting next Wednesday in the assembly chambers, where the commission will hold a public hearing on the code.

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