Champions of allowing "accessory dwelling units" to be built citywide in St. Paul will have to wait at least another week.
The St. Paul City Council on Wednesday voted to beef up language explicitly requiring any property with an accessory dwelling unit to be owner-occupied, either with the owner living in the main house or in the accessory unit.
Council Member Chris Tolbert, who introduced the change, said it clearly requires property owners to live full-time in one of the units.
"The alternative was to wait until these things start getting built and people violate by renting out both units through Airbnb and then try to fix it through enforcement," Tolbert said. "This takes care of that first."
The idea to allow citywide accessory dwelling units — basically, micro-residences built as stand-alone or attached structures on the lots of single-family homes — has been growing across St. Paul for months. They are currently allowed only in a small area near University Avenue along the Green Line light rail. In February, the City Council asked staff to study allowing units in additional neighborhoods as another way to add affordable housing to a city with a 2 percent vacancy rate.
A number of district councils, the St. Paul Area Association of Realtors and the St. Paul Advisory Committee on Aging all have expressed support for allowing the units citywide.
The proposal encountered formal opposition from one of the city's 17 district councils — the Summit Hill Association, which represents neighborhoods graced by some of the city's most stately and historic homes. Association officials had asked the council to hold off on an earlier vote to give neighbors and city planners more time to study the proposal and its potential impact on traffic, parking and property values.