Minnesota's Temporary Housing Legislation
The temporary family health care dwelling law was approved by the Legislature and signed by Governor Mark Dayton in May. The law permitted local governments to issue permits that allow certain types of temporary dwelling units to be placed on residential properties to be used as living spaces for family members who need assistance with medical issues. The law included language that allowed cities to opt-out of the legislation prior to September 1, 2016.
Many cities in the Twin Cities and surrounding suburbs opted-out of this mandatory legislation, finding that the legislation left them with more questions than answers. The legislation had strict criteria for accessibility requirements, water and sewer connection, utility connection to primary structure on the lot and dwelling materials standards, but did not provide enough information about removal of structures after temporary time limit expires, how to cover the costs for inspections and other field and office work required to ensure the temporary housing is properly maintained. The Planning & Urban Design Studio provided technical expertise to help cities respond to the legislation in a timely manner. Many of the communities in the metro were not ready to address the strict timeline requirements and the possible zoning issues the legislation could have caused if they had not opted out.
Many of the cities decided to opt-out of the legislation because cities felt there was not adequate time for a thorough analysis of the issues prior to the September deadline. Contained within the legislation, including no meaningful ability to enforce removal at the end of the "temporary" period", concerns about the temporary housing becoming just a "spare" room for people that do not have actual health conditions, difficultly in controlling where they can be placed on lots and communities with small lots did not see it feasible to accommodate temporary housing for the fact it may be burdensome and cause negative visual impacts on surrounding properties. Other cities opted-out because of existing temporary structure ordinances in place or decided to opt-out to determine what will work best in their community and devise community-specific criteria for temporary housing. Rural suburbs opted-out for many of the same reasons and additional reasons associated with lack of water/sewer facilities and the trend of typically larger homes, which have sufficient square footage and bedroom space to accommodate temporary family health care in the principal structure.
Many communities are considering providing their own criteria for temporary housing that will work best in their communities to ensure their community will be prepared if at a later time cities are required to provide temporary housing similar to the legislation passed this year. Landform's Planning & Urban Design Studio helped our clients respond to this legislation and provides the expertise advice and guidance to listen, respond and create community-specific criteria regarding zoning issues.