The Carmel City Council on Feb. 15 voted down an ordinance altering the approval process for adding in-law quarters, but Mayor Jim Brainard still believes accessory dwelling units could play a valuable role in addressing the city’s shortage of affordable housing.
Brainard isn’t disappointed councilors voted against the ordinance, because once it reached them, a provision to require ADUs in new neighborhoods had already been stripped out by the Carmel Plan Commission. To the mayor, that had been the most important part of the ordinance as originally proposed.
“The goal that I was after initially was to have new developments have a small percentage of ADUs required,” he said. “When that came out of the bill, it didn’t make sense to me, so passing the version that came from the plan commission didn’t make sense.”
The final version of the ordinance did little to change the existing process for building ADUs, a major reason the council unanimously voted against it. Some councilors said they’d be willing to reconsider the issue again in the future, something Brainard supports as well.
“We’ll try to work on that proposal over the next year, and hopefully bring it back again,” said Brainard, adding that a future ordinance would likely exclude changing the process for existing neighborhoods.
Some councilors said they don’t believe requiring or making it easier to build ADUs would do much to address the affordable housing shortage, but Brainard disagrees.
“Absolutely it would help our affordable housing,” he said. “It goes right to the crux of the problem. It provides affordable units mixed throughout new developments in the community.”
Brainard said he would rather see various types of affordable housing added throughout Carmel rather than develop it in a single area.
“Affordable housing should not all be put in one place. At that point, it’s stigmatized,” he said. “Having it scattered throughout the community makes a lot of sense. That’s the way we did it in this country until the 1960s, and quite honestly, it worked much better.”