City councilman under fire for support of 'granny suites'


MISSOULA, Mont. - A Missoula City Councilman is taking fire for his support for zoning changes in the University District that would allow accessory dwelling units, also known as "granny suites."

The term "accessory dwelling unit" applies to basement apartments and backyard cottages that the property owner rents out.

Councilman Alex Taft said the city of Missoula needs more low cost housing, and he's leading an ordinance change proposal that would allow ADUs in single family neighborhoods in the University District.

The proposal has gotten Taft into hot water with some of his University District constituents. Several of them wore pins to the last city council meeting that said "recall Taft."

University District resident John Snively said he opposes ADUs because their neighborhood has a dense enough population as it is.

"I would rather not see these proliferate in the neighborhood," said Snively. "Because of the density, the parking problems that come with it, the care of the landscaping that comes with it, the lawns."

Taft says he believes ADUs offer the best solution to the vacancy rate problem. He points to ADUs in other surrounding neighborhoods as examples of how they add to the quality of the neighborhood.

"Give the property owner the option to use their property in a way that will expand the supply of housing in the community as a whole," said Taft. "As well as allow them to afford to buy a house, and use the additional income to offset a mortgage payment."

Even the residents against accessory dwelling units admit that meeting the legal requirements to recall Taft would be extremely difficult, but they are also working on a petition that would ban ADUs from the University District that is gaining some traction.

The city council takes up the subject again in a few weeks.

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