In 2019, the City of Phoenix passed a housing plan that would preserve or create 50K affordable units by 2030, including the codification of Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) as allowable structures on lots previously zoned for single-family homes. When the City Council floated its draft Accessory Dwelling Unit Ordinance last summer, the local REALTOR® association had no doubts about the need to increase housing and maximize freedom for property owners, but before voicing their strong support, they turned to the National Association of REALTORS®’ Land Use Initiative for a thorough review of proposed legislation. In the short time since the new ordinance has been in effect, more than 60 permit applications have already been filed – and counting.
Aly Perkins, Government Affairs Director of Phoenix REALTORS®, explains that the association had been laying groundwork for measures to increase housing many months earlier, when they supported the election of two REALTOR® Champions to the City Council. That change of dynamic opened the door for zoning revisions, says Perkins, and last spring, with two new members in favor of ADUs, new legislation got underway to update the city’s previous zoning, which had been piecemeal, spotty, and not inclusive.
“We were absolutely in favor of making ADUs legal throughout the city, because in-fill housing is the simplest and most organic way to maximize capacity within the existing infrastructure, and because it empowers homeowners,” states Perkins. But, while the REALTORS® knew where they stood on the issue, they were concerned about some of the details in the draft ordinance, for example, the requirement that one of the units on a property had to be owner-occupied, and how that would affect an owner’s ability to engage in the long- and short-term rental markets. Not having the expertise nor the staff time to comb through all the fine print, the association applied to the Land Use Initiative program for analysis and guidance on the proposed legislation.
The analysis indicated that the draft ordinance would be “relatively permissive and property rights friendly,” reassuring Phoenix REALTORS® about their inclination to support the measure. Beyond a couple of NIMBY neighborhood groups, reports Perkins, there wasn’t significant opposition to the ordinance, and the REALTORS® were fairly confident in its chances for passage. They used the information “quietly,” drafting a letter of support to the City Council members.
The ordinance passed in September, allowing for ADUs to exist anywhere in Phoenix that had been zoned for single-family housing; according to the city permit office, applications have been coming in steadily since the measure took effect in early November.
“New housing is on the horizon, and our members are very happy,” says Perkins, though she notes that the city’s goal of 50K housing units by 2030, while ambitious, will still not be adequate if Arizona’s population continues to grow at the current rate. “Expanding the zoning for ADUs will be an essential piece of the affordable housing puzzle, among many others. This is an important step in the right direction! We’re so grateful to NAR for helping us make informed decisions, moving forward.”
To learn more about how Phoenix REALTORS® is working to support the creation of much-needed housing in the fast-growing state capital, contact Government Affairs Director Aly Perkins at email@example.com or 602.288.0229.