Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs): The Durango Experience

Monday, April 4, 2016 | 10:30 a.m. - 11:45 a.m.
CM | 1.25
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Community officials, planners, and local governments across the country are struggling with how to address accessory dwelling units (ADUs) and illegal dwelling units. Changing housing preferences and lifestyles are increasing demand for these typically smaller and more flexible housing arrangements. This session will describe how a deliberate and inclusive public process led to the creation of an innovative program for handling these unique housing and neighborhood issues in Durango, Colorado. The program, The City of Durango Pre-Existing ADU Voluntary Registration Initiative, has been selected as the 2015 APA Colorado Honor Award Recipient for General Planning Project.

The session will focus on the inclusive public process that addressed all the issues and concerns surrounding ADUs, including existing illegal units and new units. It also will examine specific language in the resulting code, which allows for new housing options while maintaining the character of the community. Learn about the development of a voluntary registration program that utilizes amnesty for registered units and how a comprehensive, inclusive approach led to the accomplishment of multiple community objectives. Explore the challenges a community faces when it does not have a consistent, proactive enforcement program and how the ADU program is helping the city of Durango to better understand the existing housing stock and jump-start a housing study.

You'll learn about:

  • Best practices for allowing ADUs in existing neighborhoods and managing their impacts
  • A public process on the front end that results in a smoother adoption process on the back end
  • How to build flexibility into your implementation program to ensure success
  • Why expanding housing choices does not have to change the character of the neighborhood if carefully done
  • Why it is better to get ahead of the problem with consistent, proactive enforcement


Vicki Vandegrift , AICP , City of Durango Plng Office , Durango , CO (see bio)
Scott Shine , AICP , City of Durango Cmty Dev. , Durango , CO (see bio)