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ACC commissioners to look at allowing guesthouses to ease housing crunch

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Athens-Clarke County Commissioner Jesse Houle speaks at a mayor and commission meeting on October 4, 2022.

Athens Clarke County commissioners are set to meet tonight for their regular monthly voting meeting with an agenda that looks likely to turn the meeting into a lengthy affair.

One item that commissioners are expected to deal with is an ordinance allowing the creation of accessory dwelling units or ADUs. If passed, the new measure would allow homeowners to construct a guesthouse which could be rented out.

Supporters of the measure say it would alleviate some of the pressure on the county’s housing stock. Commissioner Jesse Houle spoke to WUGA last month.

"Our population here has just been growing at a faster rate than the number of units we've built," they said. "And so over the course of the past10 to 20 years, we've gone from a community that had a surplus of housing to a community that just has a shortage of actual buildings for people to be in."

The ADU proposal is one of a number of ideas commissioners have been discussing and debating in recent months to address what many are calling a housing crisis affecting the county.

If passed, the ADU ordinance would place some restrictions on the size of rental units. In the proposal in front of commissioners, the total square footage of and ADU would be limited to 800 square feet, and the ADU could not have more than one bedroom.

Commissioners have also been discussing ways to control short term rentals like AirBnBs, which, while often more lucrative, are contributing to the dearth of housing stock in the county, according to housing experts and policymakers.

Martin Matheny is WUGA's Program Director and a host and producer of our local news program 'Athens News Matters.' He started at WUGA in 2012 as a part-time classical music host and still hosts WUGA's longest-running local program 'Night Music' which is heard on WUGA and GPB Classical. He lives in Normaltown with his wife, Shaye and dog, Murphy.