Grandparents and Accessory Dwelling Units: Preserving Intimacy and Independence
Margaret F. Brinig
Notre Dame Law School
September 7, 2012
Notre Dame Legal Studies Paper No. 12-72
Cities around the United States (and, to varying degrees, in Canada, Britain, and Australia), today confront a problem that people did not envision twenty or even ten years ago, when municipalities heavily favored single-family residences, and were permitted to exclude other forms under what is known as Euclidean zoning. Currently, the issue of whether to allow owners in single family-zoned neighborhoods to build living spaces that might house elderly relatives or their caregivers is being hotly contested in New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago, and made recent news in Ft. Worth, Texas, and Arlington, Virginia. Legislative responses have varied from wholesale acceptance, including subsidies, loans, and waiving of permit fees; to outright prohibition.
While other ongoing work asks the question of why the issue has become contested, why we see the wide variety of responses (even in a single state), and what interest groups are behind proponents and opponents, this paper considers the family connection with alternative dwelling units (ADUs). Does living near to but not with their children solve a particular problem for many elderly citizens, or does living in this form of housing reduce their well-being? Even assuming grandparents are better off, what about their children and grandchildren?
Number of Pages in PDF File: 18
Keywords: zoning, elder grandparents, child care, housing, granny flat, second unit
JEL Classification: K19, K34
Date posted: September 8, 2012
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