The Deschutes County Board has recently given its approval for amendments concerning Rural Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs), influenced by Senate Bills 391 and 644. These changes are designed to establish standards for rural ADUs in the rural zones of Oregon, with the goal of addressing housing diversity. The amendments involve modifications to the Deschutes County Code, focusing on aspects such as property size, ADU dimensions, and proximity to fire protection. Notably, wildfire regulations are still a significant topic, with further revisions expected.
Important Update: On August 9, 2023, the Deschutes County Board of Commissioners met to deliberate on this proposal. They unanimously decided to adopt the proposed amendments, albeit with specific modifications. We anticipate the final adoption of these changes in the coming weeks. We encourage you to revisit our website for the finalized amendments and their subsequent implementation timeline.
Overview of Amendments: The primary objective of these amendments is to establish local standards for rural ADUs in accordance with Senate Bills 391 and 644.
Modifications to the Deschutes County Code (DCC) include:
1. Rural ADUs are now authorized in all designated rural residential exception territories, including the Multiple Use Agricultural Zone and Rural Residential Zone, as outlined in DCC 18.32, 18.60, 19.12, 19.20, and 19.22.
2. DCC 18.116 and 19.92 introduce definitions and approval standards for rural ADUs, aligning with the requirements of SB 391.
3. Rural ADUs are now included in the permit types requiring Lot of Record Verification before establishment, as per DCC 22.04.
Background & Context: Rural residential zones are scattered throughout the state of Oregon, existing outside urban growth boundaries. Historically, these zones lacked diverse opportunities for accessory dwellings by-right, hindering the development of inter-generational and alternative housing options. The adoption of SB 391 by the Oregon Legislature in 2021 marked a significant shift in this landscape.
State-Defined Standards for ADUs: Key criteria outlined in Senate Bill 391 include:
- Adoption of ADU ordinances in rural residential zones by counties.
- Parcel sizes of two acres or more with an existing single-family dwelling.
- Proximity to a fire protection service provider.
- Compliance with state regulations regarding sanitation, water supply, and wastewater disposal.
- A limitation of 900 sq. ft. of usable floor space and adherence to various siting standards.
ADU Limitations: Various restrictions apply to these units, including specified distances from the primary dwelling, prohibitions on short-term vacation rentals, subdivisions, and placement in urban reserves.
Update on Wildfire Regulations: While SB 391 initially included several wildfire hazard mitigation measures, significant public concerns and feedback prompted the Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF) to retract its initial risk map in July 2022. We eagerly await further updates on this matter, especially given the recent passage of Senate Bill 644 on May 8, 2023.
Current Status of the Proposal: As mentioned earlier, the Deschutes County Board of Commissioners has approved the proposed amendments with specific modifications. However, applications will still need to await the updated Oregon Wildfire Risk Map. We encourage our stakeholders to stay tuned for the forthcoming finalized details.
An Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU), often known as a "secondary" or "additional" dwelling unit, refers to a separate living space located either within the same structure as the primary residence or on the same property. The terminology for ADUs can vary based on regional preferences and nuances. They may be referred to as "Granny flats" for accommodating elderly family members, "in-law suites" or "mother-in-law apartments" for extended family, "secondary suites" or "backyard cottages" for their auxiliary nature and common placement in a property, "carriage houses" or "laneway houses" in urban settings, "garden suites" for dwellings amidst lush greenery, and even "tiny houses" if they meet ADU criteria and are foundation-based. Whether labeled as a "bonus unit" or "guest house" with comprehensive living amenities, the essence remains the same: a versatile, independent living space that complements the primary residence.