Phoenix City Council votes 8-1 to legalize casitas in backyards

The Phoenix City Council voted to approve a change to the city's housing code, which many hope would be a solution to the affordable housing shortage.

"We had a need for an older family member, so I started exploring options," said homeowner George Hasiotis.

At Wednesday afternoon's meeting, city leaders voted 8-1 on a proposal that would once again allow homeowners to build full-fledged living units in their backyards.

Currently, zoning ordinances only allow structures such as storage sheds in residential backyards. However, not all areas of the city allow for plumbing or running water, which means they are not considered livable. 

The city council has been looking into amending the code to allow homeowners to build accessory dwelling units, more commonly known as casitas or guest houses, in their backyards. These units would have to be on the property of a single-family home and have running water and electricity. They would also need to meet certain requirements and be approved by the city.

The requirements include:

  • No bigger than 1,000 square feet for most properties
  • No taller than 15 feet
  • A lease of at least 31 days or more.

In addition, full kitchens and bathrooms are allowed.

The proposed law would also add definitions for duplexes and triplexes to distinguish them from accessory dwelling units.


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Even a small shift in mortgage rates could make a big difference to home affordability.

Homeowners would be allowed to rent the unit, but would be required to live in the main home or unit. 

While the goal is to get more long-term renters in homes, the city would not be able to prevent homeowners from making the units short-term rentals.

"Since the legislation passed [on Sept. 7], we’ve already gotten several messages and emails interested and want to learn more. There’s already been a constant demand, not only in Phoenix. That’s only going to increase now that people in Phoenix have the right to build," said Zander Diamont, who co-founded a company called Minimal Living Concepts. "This isn’t going out and buying a $200,000 Range Rover that depreciates. This is actually an income generating, value-adding product that’s going to enhance the value of your home."

"So, it enhances the square footage value overall, enhances the value of the property. I look at it like a growth investment with appreciation," said Hasiotis.