Open Letter from A Better Cobb to Kennesaw City Council

An assortment of buildings with the word "Housing" above

[The following open letter to the Kennesaw City Council was submitted by A Better Cobb]

Dear Mayor Easterling and Councilmembers,

We are writing to advocate for an Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) policy to be added to the Kennesaw code of ordinances. The term ADU refers to a variety of residential structures including in-law units, garage conversions, and tiny homes. This ordinance would address the pressing needs of the community, serve as additional income sources for families, and provide affordable housing options for families young and old.

From Portland, OR to Decatur, GA, cities with ADU-friendly laws have experienced significant increases in housing numbers and diversification in types of housing. These policies can help keep families close and allow neighborhoods to grow incrementally at a neighborhood pace and scale. Through thoughtful legislation, Kennesaw can provide residents with the same opportunities. 

With Kennesaw’s current zoning laws there are no regulations on ADUs, creating a legal gray area and a barrier for homeowners. To harness the full potential of Kennesaw’s existing neighborhoods, we recommend that the council enact the following policy changes: 

  1. Explicitly Allow ADUs: Amend zoning laws to allow ADUs on any residential property in all residential zoning categories.
  2. Make building ADUs Feasible: Create a fast-track permitting process for ADUs to encourage homeowners to add these units legally and safely. Adding more restrictions such as impact fees, minimum lot sizes, and complicated permitting & building rules for ADUs disincentivizes their construction.
  3. Ease Parking and Utility Restrictions: Reevaluate parking requirements and utility hookup regulations – such as requiring a separate connection from the primary structure – that disproportionately impact the feasibility and dramatically increase the cost of ADU projects.
  4. Offer Financial Incentives: Consider grants, low-interest loans, or fee waivers for homeowners looking to build ADUs, especially those who commit to renting them at affordable rates.

Given the current housing crisis that we face in Kennesaw, Metro Atlanta, and the country at large, having a diverse housing stock is important. ADUs are a great way to allow homeowners to generate rental income, stay in their homes longer, and increase housing supply by giving individuals the power to expand on a smaller scale.

Thank you for considering this proposal. With your support we can take meaningful action in addressing the housing issues we all face. If you do choose to move forward with an ordinance, we would love to be a part of the process.

This letter incorporates general insights from the following articles and suggests specific policy recommendations based on successful practices observed in other municipalities:

Decatur’s ADU Policies | City of Decatur

All About Accessory Dwelling Units | AARP

Making it Easier to Build ADUs | Strong Towns

How Cities Get ‘Granny Flats’ Wrong | Bloomberg CityLab

A Better Cobb

Tyler Bigler

Lily Nguyen

Samuel Foster

Connor Manthey

Matt Stigall

Alex Curran