ADU veto stands in Albany
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ADU veto stands in Albany

Albany City Hall STOCK PIX

Albany City Hall

The vote to override Albany Mayor Sharon Konopa's veto blocking an increase in the maximum size of an accessory dwelling unit failed during Wednesday's city council meeting.

Councilors promised that the issue would go to the Land Use Board of Appeals. 

In December, the council voted 4-2 to increase the maximum size of ADUs from 750 to 900 square feet. The change was part of an update to city code that would bring the city into compliance with state law, which allows ADUs in any neighborhood that currently allows single-family homes. Homeowners could apply for an ADU of up to half the size of the primary home up to 750 square feet. The council vote bumped that maximum to 900 square feet but was vetoed by Konopa. 

It marked her third veto on the subject since 2017. the vote to override was 4-2, but five votes are required.

Konopa cited a lack of time for public comment on the change in her veto message, noting that the agenda item called for 750 square feet but was changed to 900 during the council meeting. 

On Wednesday, councilors Mike Sykes and Rich Kellum pushed back on the notion, stating that the Planning Commission approved the 900-square-foot suggestion on an 8-1 vote, and that each time the mayor vetoed the council's decision, it was with a 900-square-foot maximum.

Konopa offered a compromise on Wednesday, asking the council if anyone would make a motion to accept 800 square feet as the new maximum. 

"The 900 square feet allows another bedroom," Sykes said, adding that he wanted the maximum kept at that size. 

Konopa and councilor Dick Olsen said they worried about the traffic an added bedroom — that may come with an additional vehicle for its occupant — would cause. 

"We have an 11-minute rush hour," Kellum said, citing information from city staff. "It's going to go to 12 minutes?"

Councilor Alex Johnson said he routinely worked with elderly residents in his insurance business and the city's refusal to allow ADUs was detrimental to the community.

"You are saying it's going to cause a traffic jam," he said. "People who can afford to build an ADU would rather cause a traffic jam than have to go into assisted living where the cost is astronomical. I went to 19 funerals last year of people who died alone in a small room when they could have been at home with their family. It's asinine to me to hear arguments about traffic when that's someone's grandparent."

Kellum said that if the veto stood, individuals would assuredly  bring the city to LUBA over the matter. 

"If it goes to LUBA, we have to authorize our attorney to go defend it and there are four votes on this board that will not authorize it," he said.

Konopa noted that Eugene had been brought to LUBA over the issue and was victorious.

Councilors Bill Coburn and Olsen voted against the motion to override the mayor's veto. According to the city's charter, at least five members of the board must vote in favor of overriding a veto. 


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