[though I would not write exactly the same letter today, I still hope for legal ADU's. Here is the previously unpublished e-mail in support of allowing ADU's I sent to the City Commissioners who had e-mail access in 2007. ]
I support allowing people to do with their property what they see fit as
long as it does not infringe on the rights of others. Therefore I
support allowing Accessory Dwelling Units in Traverse City.
It seems opposition to ADU's falls into a few different camps: privacy,
parking, people, and protectionism. I'd like to address these concerns.
many opponents of ADU's worry that a two-story garage in their
neighbor's backyard will result in gawkers looking directly into their
backyard. This is a legitimate concern. Although houses in Traverse City
neighborhoods are very close together and I can easily see into all of
my neighbors windows. I had no expectation of privacy when I moved into
town. But many people consider their backyard as an oasis and a retreat
therefore when building ADU's design considerations must be made to
limit how windows face backyards. This is a matter for the language in
the ADU code.
Adding more people to the city may increase the need for
vehicle parking. But on the flip side more people living in town will
reduce traffic congestion because people will be able to walk and bike
to their downtown location rather than driving into town from an
outlying suburb. The parking issue is a matter for the language in the
code. Keep the ban on overnight on-street parking and require anyone
with an ADU to provide a parking spot for each bedroom rented.
Although no one comes out and says it city residents don't like
renters. Especially college age renters. And with good reason. Renters
can be unruly, rude, offensive, and annoying - especially at 2 AM and
they are playing Johnny Cash's 'Ring Of Fire' at 11 on their home
stereo. From my experience of living in town it is the houses used as
rentals that are the biggest headache. But I've also lived next to
rentals where the house owner lived on one floor and rented the other.
Without exception, instances where the owner has been on-site have been
problem free whereas houses used as a rental have their share of
problems. This is a matter for the language in the code by requiring
anyone with an ADU to live on-site.
Plus, by having ADU's with only one or two renters it keeps young people
from living together in a big house which is what seems to be so
I've read in the Record-Eagle comments from an apartment
owner who is against allowing ADU's because of the extra competition
they would give the apartment. I was not aware that the role of
government was to protect someone's business plan. Should TC prevent new
B&B's until all the hotel rooms are occupied? Prevent new restaurants
from opening until all the other eateries have their tables filled? Or
is the right to private property more important? But just as hotels pay
a tax I wouldn't mind adding a service fee or tax to ADU's when they are
The argument regarding enforcement is a red herring. Who enforces
current laws regarding in-home businesses such as childcare, or trash
burning, etc. It is easy - if something
happens at an ADU and law enforcement arrives and the investigation
shows the owner does not live on site then there will be a fine.
The Good of ADU:
I want a town where young families walk their children to child to
Central Grade School. I want a town where I may have a neighbor letting
a player from the Beach Bums living above their garage. Or an owner of a
local business who hires an intern who can live in town too because they
found someone to rent them an ADU at an affordable price. ADU's and
local schools go together.
Everyone knows living in town is expensive. If I or my wife lost our job
we would have to move out of town. Taking a potential Central Grade
School student with us. However, if we could have an ADU then because of
that extra income it becomes a possibility that we can get by as a
The Bigger Issue
Ever since English Common Law it has been understood the people can
decide what to do with their property. Although you may not like it
that includes renting all or a portion of their property to others.
'Privacy' is not in the U.S. Constitution, but property is protected by
four amendments (Third, Fourth, Fifth, and Fourteenth). This is because
it was well understood in the 18th Century that the right to property
gives birth to a right to privacy. Those who would dictate to others
what they can do with their own private property stand on a slippery
slope of erosion of their own 'right to privacy'.