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Accessory Dwelling Units Text Amendment

Accessory dwelling units (ADUs) – also known as “granny flats”, “mother-in-law apartments” or “alley flats” – have received significant attention nationwide in recent years, alongside conversations about the lack of affordable housing options for renters, aging Boomers, and homeowners in growing urban areas.

The Minneapolis zoning code does not generally allow ADUs. In 2001, the City adopted the NP North Phillips Overlay District to allow for the construction of accessory dwellings in a portion of the Phillips neighborhood. The City of Minneapolis’ Department of Community Planning & Economic Development (CPED) is now undertaking an amendment to the zoning code ordinances that would establish regulations for ADUs and make them allowed citywide.

What is an ADU?

An accessory dwelling unit (ADU) – also referred to as a granny flat, mother-in-law apartment, or alley flat – is a self-contained living unit that can be located within the walls of an existing or newly constructed home, or that can be an addition to an existing home. It can also be a freestanding structure on the same lot as the principal dwelling unit or a conversion of a garage or carriage house. The City of Minneapolis is currently considering all three types of ADUs: interior, attached, and detached.

Purpose and scope of the ADU ordinance amendment

Within the past few decades, more and more municipalities across the country have been adopting standards to allow or encourage the construction of ADUs. Commonly-cited examples include Seattle, Portland, Vancouver, Denver, and Savannah. Several Minnesota cities have also relaxed restrictions on ADUs, including Bloomington, Plymouth, Faribault, Minnetonka, Stillwater, and Long Lake. Communities are looking to ADUs to help make progress toward a variety of community goals, including:

CPED has received an increasing number of inquiries related to allowing ADUs from a wide variety of voices, including homeowners, renters, neighborhood organizations, community leaders, and advocates in the active living, senior housing, transit, architecture, and affordable housing communities. The proposed zoning code text amendment would allow ADUs in Minneapolis as one of many tools that would contribute to the benefits listed above, among others.

The amendment would also establish parameters for the development and regulation of ADUs. CPED staff will develop draft changes to the city ordinances based on best practices research and feedback from stakeholders and community members.


To date, City staff has conducted extensive peer research on best practices in the United States and Canada and has engaged other City departments to explore the additional regulatory requirements outside of the zoning code that would make it possible to allow ADUs. The City plans to engage the community on the provisions of the draft text amendment in summer 2014 and bring a draft forward for review by the City Planning Commission and City Council in fall 2014.

Public Input Dates

CPED will be holding two community meetings in August to discuss the text amendment. We would greatly value your input and hope to see you there!

South:           Saturday, August 23, 2014
                       10:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
                        Hosmer Community Library
                        347 E 36th Street

Northeast:    Wednesday, August 27, 2014
                        5:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.
                        Eastside Neighborhood Services
                        1700 2nd St NE

North:            Tuesday, September 16, 2014
5:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.
                        North Regional Library
                        1315 Lowry Ave N

Southwest:   Wednesday, September 17, 2014
7:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.
                        Kenwood Community Center
                        2101 W Franklin Ave

Send your comments or fill out the ADU Questionnaire by Wednesday, September 24, 2014.

Open House Materials

Planning Commission – Committee of the Whole


Last updated Sep 15, 2014