The city of Bellingham announced last week that they are moving forward immediately, with the bulk of the new state law that was announced in April regarding ADUs.

What is an ADU? Additional dwelling units are detached OR attached homes that are typically developed in addition to a single-family home. In the city of Bellingham traditionally, you see these where duplex/multi-family zoning is not permitted, and a homeowner wants to build a 2nd apartment or cottage for a family member, or for rental income.

What this means: Previously ADUs were only permitted in certain neighborhoods where zoning allowed, and even then parking restrictions got in the way of many lots being approved. So essentially it was restricted to select neighborhoods with ample parking space available. With the new law, the majority of the city of Bellingham homeowners will now have the possibility of building an ADU, and possibly two ADUs!

The primary changes with this new law now enacted:

You can now build up to two ADUs, detached or attached.

The maximum square footage was raised to 1,000 square feet (this allows for a 2-bedroom).

Reduced parking requirement if the home is near bus lines (most homes in the city of Bellingham are).

No owner occupancy requirement (can be rented).

The development can be done through the condominium project process (which is faster and less expensive).

Will not require street improvements.

As you can see above, this eliminates an incredible amount of red tape in developing an ADU in the city of Bellingham. Being able to build up to 2, and larger ADUs is also a huge deal.  This truly raises the value of the land and the options for the property, for most homeowners in the city of Bellingham. It also should help with affordable housing on the rental side of things, as more small homes being developed and rented will allow for more options for those looking for affordable rent (particularly in core neighborhood locations, where we will likely see the biggest increase in the development of additional ADUs).

The only major restrictions to consider still include the Lake Whatcom watershed, general wetland restrictions and neighborhood CC&Rs. Neighborhood CC&’R’s can still override the city’s new development rules.

Need help figuring out if you are property qualifies? Or do you want to set up a search for homes/properties that have the space for further development? Reach out to us and we can help.

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