Push to legalize ‘accessory dwelling units’ in some areas of Miami-Dade gets closer to goal

Annie Lord said she believes an ordinance that Miami-Dade County commissioners are considering could help increase the affordability of housing by legalizing accessory dwelling units.

MIAMI – Annie Lord said she believes an ordinance that Miami-Dade County commissioners are considering could help increase the affordability of housing by legalizing accessory dwelling units.

Lord is the executive director Miami Homes for All, an organization aiming to end homelessness. If commissioners pass the ordinance, Lord said residents in unincorporated areas would be allowed to rent out garages or smaller spaces.

“This is a great way for people to retain their existing homes by creating a new form of income by creating a smaller, probably more affordable rental unit,” Lord said.

Lord and other supporters of the ordinance said it would not dramatically shift the character of neighborhoods, but rather incrementally allow for moderate increases in density.

“These kinds of dwellings are probably already in existence,” Lord said. “I think we all kind of know people who live in a situation where they are renting a unit on someone else’s property.”

Related link: Here is the legislative file on the ADU ordinance


Laura Cantwell, AARP Florida’s associate state director for livable communities, also supports the ordinance.

“We do a lot of surveys and we hear over and over older adults want to stay in their home and in their community and having something like accessory dwelling units really provides an option for an older adult to stay in their home as long for as they want to,” Cantwell said.

Miami-Dade Commissioner Raquel Regalado said she worked on the ordinance for about two years.

“We have a problem with efficiencies throughout Miami-Dade County in terms of zoning and the comprehensive master plan,” Regalado said. “We had so many people reach out to our office and ask about a legal way to do this, folks are doing it illegally, so this is a legal pathway.”

The ordinance addresses safety concerns, limits the number of tenants and cars, and prohibits vacation rentals, Regalado said.

“It is a fact that vacation rentals are removing units from the housing supply and driving up prices,” Lord said.

Regalado, who introduced the ordinance on Aug. 11, said the ordinance will also help people to keep their homes and run multigenerational homes.

“The reality is that Miami-Dade is getting more and more expensive,”

According to the AARP/Statista analysis of the data available by the U.S. Census Bureau, more than 8,300 adults who are 55 and older in Miami-Dade County will be evicted this year, and more than 2,800 will experience homelessness.

“It speaks to the fact that we need more affordable housing choices and options for older adults and all ages,” Cantwell said.

Samar Jha, AARP’s government affairs director, sent a letter to Regalado about two weeks ago saying the accessory dwelling units can fill a number of roles.

“Like providing a place for your aging parent to live instead of a nursing home, or for your boomerang kid to come back to when they’ve lost their job,” Jha said.

Miami-Dade is holding a webinar at 3:30 p.m., on Oct. 28. Registration is required on this page. After registering, users will receive a confirmation e-mail with more information about how to join the webinar.

Commissioners adopted the proposed ordinance on first reading and a committee had a public hearing on Oct. 13. The next meeting about the ordinance is on Nov. 1.

Read Jha’s letter

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About the Author:

Christina returned to Local 10 in 2019 as a reporter after covering Hurricane Dorian for the station. She is an Edward R. Murrow Award-winning journalist and previously earned an Emmy Award while at WPLG for her investigative consumer protection segment "Call Christina."