Why Does Portland Have ALL the ADUs?

ADUs in Portland As you read through the ADU Case Studies on AccessoryDwellings.org, it may seem like ALL the ADUs in America are centered in the immediate vicinity of Voodoo Donuts. I’m here to assure you that’s not true. It’s really not about the donuts. It’s about the food carts, the craft beer, and the dream of the 1890s.

But in seriousness, there are indeed lots of ADUs in Portland, OR and several good reasons that Portland has become the epicenter of the small housing universe. There are also a couple reasons that Portland is over-represented on AccessoryDwellings.org. I’ll explain these in a moment.

But first, I want to make sure you know the ADUs are NOT all in Portland. Really. There are legal, permitted ADUs in cities all over the country. (And lots more practical ADUs that aren’t permitted, but that’s a different story.) Even within the ADU Case Studies Project, which is focused on ADUs in Oregon, there are several ADUs in Eugene, OR (see Bob & Jenny Harris, Robert Albano, Dennis & Stephanie Martin, and Caleb & Tori Bruce) and Ashland, OR (see Cheryl & Jim Levie and Dan Gray. We will continue to add information about ADUs to AccessoryDwellings.org so that over time it will be clear that the ADUs are not all in Portland.

So here’s why it seems like ALL the ADUs are in Portland:

  1. First, the creators of AccessoryDwellings.org - Kol Peterson, Eli Spevak, and Martin Brown - are Portland residents. They are also policy wonks and, of course, ADU owners, developers, consultants, and dwellers. These small space geeks write about what they know and love: ADUs and Portland. But, please be assured there’s a keen interest in continuing to include information about ADUs from across the country (and around the world). We Want Your Contributions to make the website representative of all the exciting projects happening everywhere!
  2. Second, the ADU Case Studies Project was funded by the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality to support building small as the best green building strategy. So the case studies written in 2014-2015 were all from Oregon. Now that the ADU Case Studies Project has wrapped up, you can contribute your own case study. If you’d like to submit your project, please contact us for the template and send it back to us with 5-10 high-quality photos of your ADU. Don’t be shy! Show off your ADU. We bet it’s awesome…
  3. Third, Portland is probably the best place in the country to build ADUs. Check out How Portland Became ADU-Friendly (And How Your City Can, Too). By reading through the posts on AccessoryDwellings.org, you can learn how Portland made it possible to create Discrete Density and learn Tangible Ways to Support Space-Efficient Housing, too.

Meanwhile, please look at the ADU Case Studies as a set of examples for how you, too, could create an awesome ADU. Even if the ADU regulations are different where you live, and even if it's not practical to bring a Portland-based ADU Professional on board for your project, there are great ideas here you can borrow. The ADU Case Studies Project includes all sorts of interesting information from how people created clever storage solutions to how to buy or sell a property with an ADU. So please enjoy exploring and share your ADU with us once it's built!