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Casitas could be coming to your neighborhood

Casitas could be coming to your Tucson neighborhood
Posted at 10:17 PM, Jul 28, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-29 01:17:48-04

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — Whether you call them casitas, mother-in-law apartments, or granny pads -- accessory dwelling units (ADU) could be coming to your neighborhood.

ADUs are independent housing units that need to have a kitchen, bathroom, living area, and sleeping space.

In our area, they're better known as casitas.

They can be detached, attached or interior to the primary residence.

Koren Manning is the Planning Administrator with the City of Tucson Planning & Development Services. She says casitas can help boost the amount of housing in an area, without taking up any more space.

“It’s a way of providing affordable housing. Number two, accessory dwelling units are a model that have worked well for a lot of people who want to age in place. Maybe move into a smaller unit. And it’s a way of developing and growing as a community that can be more environmentally sustainable and climate friendly,” said Manning.

Right now, the zoning code doesn't allow casitas to be built in the city, but a new proposal could change that (with some rules).

Under the proposal:

  • One casita can be built on any residential lot in the city (meaning a lot with one or two homes)
  • The maximum size of a casita would be 1,000 square feet.
  • One parking space would be required per unit
  • Each newly constructed unit would be required to have a cool roof

“I think it’s just too fast…” said Tucsonan Hannah Glasston during the virtual public hearing.
Glasston is asking for more time, saying she's worried her neighbors will move if casitas start going up.

Diana Lett shares that worry.

“Pre-1948 ADUs are vastly smaller than 1000 square feet. So we;re talking about a proposal that would cause a huge irreversible damage to the character of our neighborhood,” said Lett.

Though there are others that are in favor of building casitas.

“I look forward to it being affordable, because I think our barrio people will appreciate it,” a woman said during the virtual public hearing.

Tucson Planning and Development says they’re also working on an amnesty program for folks who want to build casitas on their property.

“That will help either provide some technical assistance, potentially some financial assistance as well, to allow for people bring their building up to code and get those permits,” added Daniel Bursuck, the Principal Planner for the City of Tucson Planning & Development Services.

Manning says building a unit from scratch can cost between $50,000 and $150,000.