August 9, 2016; Christian Science Monitor
The Christian Science Monitor has an article about the frustrations of accessory dwelling units. Back in 2009, Ira Belgrade converted a detached rec room in his back yard into a rental unit. What happened next is a little unclear from the article, but apparently the City of Los Angeles determined that the converted rec room was 15 feet too close to the property line. The article also alludes to a lawsuit by a neighbor claiming that the accessory unit was illegal.
Belgrade’s predicament is also indicative of a broader cultural clash, researchers and observers say. Longstanding notions of the ideal American home, and policies meant to preserve it, are colliding with a reality of soaring housing costs, stagnant incomes, and a growing desire to live close to walkable city centers. The result is a struggle that cuts to the heart of the American Dream as it was imagined by the generations following World War II.
While Mr. Belgrade’s accessory unit was not really designed to provide a home for an aging parent, Emily Badger writes for the Washington Post about the same issue focusing on a real granny. As with Mr. Belgrade, complications struck Julia Coffee, who built an accessory home in her daughter’s backyard in Los Angeles.
They were just finishing the place when a lawsuit earlier this year against the city of Los Angeles brought permits for homes like theirs—second units on single-family lots—to a halt. As a result, city officials who gave them permission to build now haven’t given them a certificate of occupancy, and the utility won’t connect them to the power grid.
For the present time, the Coffees are connected to their daughter’s house by “braided extension cords that snake into the bedrooms, through the living room, across the kitchen floor, out the window, through the yard and into her daughter’s house.”