What is an ADU?

    What is an ADU: Sometimes referred to as mother-in-law unit or backyard cottage, ADUs are small, independent residential units on the same lot as a stand-alone single-family home. ADUs provide the same essential functions as a typical single-family residence, complete with a kitchen, sleeping area, and bathroom, but are smaller or "accessory" to the primary residence.  ADUs have many benefits; for example, homeowners may use them to provide supplemental income or to afford the mortgage more easily.  ADUs can expand housing options for elderly parents and multigenerational housing or can lower the barriers to entry-level homeownership. 

    Aren't ADUs already allowed in Kent? Why do we need a code update?

    Yes! Kent was one of the first jurisdictions to allow ADUs in Washington State. Even though ADUs have been allowed in Kent since 1995, less than 30 have been built. This project is evaluating the barriers to ADU construction in Kent and aims to remove as many as possible to encourage them as a housing option.

    What are the barriers to ADU construction?

    Kent staff and consultants have been diving into Kent City Code to identify ways our development regulations (also called the "city code") limits ADU construction. We also conducted interviews with homeowners who have attempted to build ADUs in Kent, as well as a few who have successfully built them. Over the past six months we have discovered a lot more about what is limiting ADU construction in Kent. 

    Some of the barriers are things the City cannot change, like the amount of money required to get a loan for ADU construction. We are focusing on what we as the City can do to help encourage ADUs in Kent. This primarily means changes to update the code and permit process improvements.

    The five main barriers Kent can influence are: design/form, permitting and impact fees, ownership requirements, parking requirements, and the number of units allowed on a site. 

    That is where you come in! We need you your feedabck to help us address these five main barriers to ADU construction.  We need to strike the right balance between the needs and  interests of the community, homeowners, developers, builders, and residents who do not yet have the ability to live in Kent. You can help us by completing the survey on the project page. Later, we will have public meetings as the proposed changes go through the adoption process.

    Where can I find the current regulations for ADUs?

    Kent City Code has an existing ADU ordinance that limits the size, height, location, and design of an ADU. The existing ADU ordinance can be found at KCC 15.08.350. When the ADU is detached from the primary home (like a backyard cottage) KCC 15.08.160 also applies. 

    How can I learn about project updates?

    The best way to receive project updates is to join our email list! We will also update this page as we move towards adoption of new development regulations.