Kol Peterson writes: "In the 1980s, there was a surge of interest in using ADUs as a form of housing for elderly people. A range of government initiatives were tested and failed. It is only in recent years, since the early 2000s, that we have begun to witness an active resurgence in permitted ADU development in some cities and towns that have actively worked to induce them…"
In the last few years, many cities and states have passed new ADU ordinances to encourage the development of secondary units. ADU-building companies, advocacy groups, lending practices, and overall awareness have quickly grown. The number of ADU building permits in Los Angeles went from 80 in 2016 to over 2,000 in 2017.
Today, the stables along the Mews of London have been transformed into residences. Mews were not designed to be lived along, yet because of their urban layout, they have become beautiful residential streets. One London resident (as quoted in Giles Worsley’s "Inigo Jones and the Origins of the London Mews") wrote of the modern mews streets, "To the city dweller and city walker, the intricate network of these former stable blocks offers a respite from the tensions of city life. Their quiet, hidden and individual character almost always elicits a small shock of surprise and wonder."
The houses along the minor streets of Philadelphia, too, have become highly prized. Today, some of the most desired residential property lies along these streets and courts. Like the mews in London, these inner-block streets offer a quiet world of their own, right in the heart of the city.
Underutilized or even abandoned alleys can be found in traditional towns across the country. The similarity in scale to the minor streets or mews is striking. As ADUs are developed along alleys in the next few years, we are presented with an opportunity: to construct ADUs which front the street and transform the service alley into a minor street, or to construct ADUs which only look into the private lot, simply leaving the alley as it is. We will explore these unprecedented opportunities more in Part 4 of this series.
All images provided by the author.