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Dallas Council Member Wants To Legalize "Granny Units"

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DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) - A Dallas council member is working to introduce a new ordinance aimed at legalizing the construction and rental of garage apartments.

Offered referred to as "granny units," Philip Kingston of District 14 wants to do away with an old housing code that forbids units.

"I was kind of mystified when I got here and found out you couldn't build them," said Kingston.

Resident Michele Blaker has always wanted to rent out the studio space that sits above her garage at her Lower Greenville home.

"I've had people approach me saying, 'hey can we rent that out,' " said Blaker. "I think it's a great asset to a home."

The unit above her garage is fully loaded with a bathroom, kitchen and living space.

"That was the reason we wanted to buy it," said Blaker.

With a mortgage, she would love to rent out her garage apartment but has always been told that it is against Dallas code.

"Any extra money is good when you have two kids in college," joked Blaker. "So it'd mean a lot."

Under the current Dallas code, if a new garage apartment has a kitchen, a bathroom and a bedroom the city won't allow it. It can have only two of those amenities.

"I was kind of mystified when I got here and found out you couldn't build them," said Kingston.

Kingston said accessory dwelling units were originally banned decades ago to crack down on substandard housing in South Dallas.

"They, in my opinion, reacted to a different problem with a solution that didn't fit that problem," said Kingston.

He is trying to pass an ordinance to bring back garage apartment and he wants to build one himself.

Kingston feels it would help younger families afford payments to buy a home and create more affordable housing.

"These are the way these neighborhoods were built originally. I just want to restore them to their original design," said Kingston.

The council member does not anticipate a few new studio rentals adding much to traffic and city code already has height and lot-size restrictions for those concerned about privacy.

Blaker also feels she, the homeowner, is a safeguard.

"If I'm living in front of that, I'm going to be really cautious about who I'm going to rent to."

Next month, the ordinance hits the city planning commission then could go before council for a vote. If allowed, the units would be approved on a neighborhood-to-neighborhood basis through public hearings.

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