Poll surveys Colorado opinions on ADUs

DENVER (KDVR) — Interesting new polling results from Colorado voters were released Monday. A vast majority agrees the state is in the middle of a housing crisis, but some think a certain type of development could be a solution.

A statewide poll asking voters what they think of accessory dwelling units, or ADUs for short, found most people are OK with this type of housing being developed across the state.

“Everybody, almost everybody thinks that ADUs is a partial solution — it’s not the solution to the housing crisis but it’s a partial solution. And it doesn’t matter which side of the aisle you sit on, everyone is in favor of that,” said Jeff Englestad, professor of the practice at the Burns School of Real Estate and Construction at the University of Denver.

ADUs are an old idea: basically, a second small dwelling next to or attached to your single-family house, like an apartment over the garage or a mother-in-law suite.

This image provided by Bigger Than Tiny, Smaller Than Average, is an example of an accessory dwelling unit, a small home separate from a main house. Proponents say ADUs are a low-impact, energy-efficient way to create more living space.

New research shows they are popular.

A Keating Research poll asked 1,277 Coloradans their opinion about housing in the state: 27% of folks who answered were Democrats, 24% were Republicans and 48% were unaffiliated. The poll specifically asked about a state law allowing ADUs to be built on single-family home properties.

What Coloradans think of ADUs

Some 78% of respondents said they somewhat or strongly support ADUs, and only 18% were somewhat or strongly opposed. Englestad said the wording of the questions in the poll could mislead some about how the state plans to solve the problem.

“I’m a proponent of local control for land use and zoning and things like that. And I still feel that way. And so, does research show that everybody thinks this is a problem? Yes. Was the question worded in such a way that the state should solve the problem? Well, that’s how the question was worded,” Englestad said.

Lawmakers tried to pass a bill last year that included ADU zoning but got serious pushback from cities that did not want the state dictating land use. Englestad said with data showing this housing is favored by most Coloradans, the key here is giving cities options and funding for this type of housing.

“It’s incumbent upon us as a state to recognize that we’ve got local leadership that is conquering these local problems as best they can. If the state can help and have assistance in all of this and maybe provide some funding for some studies or something like this, well that makes sense. But having the state enact legislation that says, ‘The cities need to do this’ — what are they going to do it with?” Englestad said.

A bill calling for more ADU development across Colorado is set to be introduced later this week.

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