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Community Development News

Reno Looks to Accessory Dwelling Units as a Way to Support Affordable Housing

Post Date:05/21/2018 12:30 PM

Update 12/10/2018

On September 19, 2018, the Reno Planning Commission worked through each of the elements of the draft ADU ordinance. The Commission noted that with modifications, the ordinance was a well-drafted ordinance should the City Council choose to adopt it. The Planning Commission forwarded a recommendation to the City Council to deny the ADU ordinance as the Commission did not feel that the Master Plan supported an increase to the density in single family neighborhoods that may result from the establishment of ADUs.  

At the November 28, 2018 City Council meeting, the Council members noted the Planning Commission's concerns and after reviewing written and presented materials the City Council voted to uphold the recommendation of the Planning Commission and denied the ADU ordinance.  


 As a part of its efforts to support affordable housing, the City of Reno is developing an ordinance that could allow for accessory dwelling units (ADUs) to be built within certain locations of the city. 


An ADU, also commonly referred to as a granny flat or in-law quarters, is a residential unit built on the same parcel as an existing single-family home. While ADUs may be attached or detached to the main home on the property, fully functional living facilities, including a kitchen, are included in these type of units.

“ADUs provide an opportunity to diversify affordability in a neighborhood by allowing rental units for extended families or other members of the public. ADUs not only give renters additional affordable living options in neighborhoods that are traditionally focused on single family homes, they also provide income to the homeowners,” Claudia Hanson, City of Reno Planning Manager, said.

Throughout the ReImagine Reno Master Plan public process, participants expressed support for ADUs within certain neighborhoods and under certain design standards. The Reno City Council requested that public input continue to be collected as part of the process when they initiated the ADU ordinance in October 2017.

“Across the country, ADUs come in many different forms. Whether you attend a meeting or participate in the online survey in January and February 2018, we encourage that everyone get involved and share your thoughts on this topic. As we draft our local ordinance, we want to get it right for our community,” Hanson said. “The City wants to ensure that the ordinance maintains the character of local neighborhoods, does not create a negative parking impact, and avoids intrusion on neighboring properties.”

Community Outreach

The City went out to the community in early 2018 to gather feedback on draft ADU regulations and requirements, including design standards and locations where the units may be allowed within the city. City staff made a presentation to each of the Neighborhood Advisory Boards (NABs) and asked for community input at the meetings. An online survey also was available from Jan. 9 through Feb. 19. 

Process and Meeting Details

Using the community input, City staff will draft an ordinance for consideration that would allow for accessory dwelling units within certain locations of the city and with certain standards. The draft ordinance will be presented to the Reno Planning Commission. Following a recommendation by the Planning Commission, the ordinance will then move to the Reno City Council for review and possible approval.

Please use the links below to access information for each meeting, including staff reports, draft ordinances, and additional materials. The case number and name for the ADU item on the agenda is TXT18-00002 (Accessory Dwelling Units). 

Potential Zoning Districts

The maps below show the potential zoning districts for ADUs that were under consideration at various points in the process. The different versions are posted for comparison purposes. 

Note: This article was originally posted in December 2017. Additional information and details were added in May, July, and September 2018. A final update was provided in December 2018.

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