San Antonio

San Antonio leaders want more casitas, sparking debate

City leaders want to encourage more owners to build ‘in-law suites’ of their backyards, however they’ve not but determined learn how to incentivize development.

SAN ANTONIO — City leaders want to make it simpler for San Antonio owners to build casitas of their backyards, however policymakers aren’t but certain learn how to incentivize development with out inviting issues. 

Mayor Ron Nirenberg and others say the small properties, typically referred to as in-law suites, might be key to including reasonably priced housing choices. Homeowners may lease out the services to assist offset larger property taxes, too.

To encourage residents to build casitas on their tons, San Antonio leaders have proposed loosening laws governing accent dwelling unit (ADU) development. 

Next week, council members will debate ordinance amendments which might permit for bigger suites, larger occupancy, and take away some design necessities. 

The proposal would additionally permit owners so as to add distinctive utility meters to the casita, separating a key financial relationship between the 2 buildings on the identical property. 

Some council members and dozens of neighborhood associations concern a few of the relaxed guidelines will encourage traders, not pleasant neighbors, to purchase up properties and erect smaller dwellings. 

“(Casitas) are a building block,” stated Bianca Maldonado, a founding member of the Tier One Neighborhood Coalition. “But as we add more, there needs to be some caution to ensure we protect the integrity of a community.” 

Investors purchased practically half of all of the properties bought in Bexar County in 2021, up from 11 p.c in 2020, in keeping with a National Association of Realtors report. 

A home-owner can’t at the moment lease out a casita except she or he lives on the property. Maldonado says that coverage is ill-enforced. 

She says she worries corporations would purchase properties and cram tenants onto one lot, whereas skirting metropolis regulators’ scrutiny. She additionally warns that relaxed design necessities may permit property house owners to drop modular properties or delivery containers of their backyards. 

District 9 councilman John Courage expressed comparable considerations.

“It would be opportunistic for someone to buy a home as an investment, then… add a little home in the back,” he stated. “If they’re buying it as an investment, then they’re out to make money on the home they buy and the home they build.”

“The owners only cares about one thing: making a buck,” he continued. “He does not care about the neighborhood. He does not care about the people in the community.”

Courage worries some traders would let the casita as a short-term rental unit, like an Airbnb.

“Too often, many of these short-term rentals are misused,” he stated. “They become party houses.” 

Courage made clear that he helps incentivizing owners to build more casitas. He says he desires metropolis officers to create an in depth enforcement plan, which may embrace including employees to make sure property house owners reside the place they’re alleged to. 

He additionally advocated for a registry that will permit metropolis officers to higher observe casita house owners. 

Other council members have lobbied for waving some charges to incentivize development as an alternative of stress-free sure development guidelines. 

Council is scheduled to think about amending its ADU ordinances on Nov. 3.

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