The Frisco Planning and Zoning Commission tabled a key agenda item that would have allowed for residents to legally rent out their guest house or detached garage. The policy topic stalled in the meeting after vague wording left the commission concerned the city may be exposed to poor interpretations of the law.
Garage and guest house renting comes in the midst of what some say is a lack of affordable housing, or a diversity of housing, in the city. The city staff has outlined this motion, where any residents can rent out their detached garage or guest house without stipulation, as one solution to accommodate more lifestyles in the city.
“Staff has recognized the need to update the regulations to define standards for the rental of units associated with a single-family dwelling to provide a diversity of housing in Frisco and to meet a housing need for people seeking a smaller living unit, and to live closer to their place of employment,” a staff report read.
The law outlines that a resident would only be eligible to rent their garage if they are a permanent, full time dweller in the main house. It would also not be allowed if the garage was attached to the home. The commission, however, saw little clarity on the meaning of “detached,” bringing about concern.
Detached, in its purest sense, could exclude many viable candidates from renting. It is common in many neighborhoods for a garage to be connected to the main house only by an awning. This, under the law, may or may not qualify as detached or an attached garage to the main house. Chairman Rob Cox said that could open up the city in the future to residents who want to rent out their garage but would be excluded even though that would run against the intent of the law. Some argued it would not qualify, but other officials said that anything with “four walls” would count as detached.
“I think we should table this to clarify what detached means. We need to define what it means to understand the awning situation. We also have to identify other situations we need to define better,” Cox said.
The ordinance also stipulates the only eligible structures to be put up for rent are ones that are “in the rear of the home.” Commissioners Steve Cone and John Kendell also had some concerns about this. If a guest house or garage was in front of the house, those would theoretically be excluded from renting. Director of Development Services John Lettelleir said he does not see this to be an issue on the garage side of the law.
“There is no room for someone to put a garage in front of their house the way the city code is,” Lettelleir said.
The guest house, however, could pose an issue. In homes with long driveways, a guest house does sometimes come before the main house. This happens in J-Swing driveways often throughout the larger plots of land. Cox cited this as another topic the staff could clarify before a vote is held.
“I don’t want people to be excluded from what I believe is a good thing we are doing (opening up structures for renting), Cox said.
Another vote will likely come on July 23 when the commission returns.