Spokane has no choice but to make room for granny.
A state board ruled Tuesday the city must let homeowners build small apartments - commonly known as granny flats - in single-family neighborhoods.
City Council members have until Sept. 6 to pass such an ordinance or face losing growth-planning money to the tune of $230,000 a year.
“You win some and you lose some,” said Mayor Jack Geraghty. “In this instance, we may have to go ahead and reconsider the ordinance.”
“We’re elated,” said Michelle Whetsel, attorney for the Coalition of Responsible Disabled.
The advocacy group in February challenged the City Council’s decision late last year to defy a state law ordering Washington cities to pass an “accessory dwelling unit ordinance” by Dec. 31.
Those who favor allowing granny flats argue the small apartments offer a low-cost place for the elderly and disabled to live.
Opponents say the plan opens residential neighborhoods to the onslaught of multi-family housing.
Geraghty, joined by Councilman Chris Anderson, Joel Crosby and Orville Barnes, argued the city was in the throes of growth management planning. That planning would allow the city to decide what type of housing it needed.
Passing a granny flat ordinance jumped the gun, they said.
The advocacy group took the council’s decision before the Eastern Washington Growth Management Hearings Board, a three-member board that hears appeals to local government regarding growth laws.
Its decisions are binding unless appealed to Superior Court. Former county Commissioner Skip Chilberg joined the board June 1, but wasn’t a member during the May hearing.
Mike Piccolo, a city attorney, said “from a legal point of view, we’re not surprised by the decision.”
The council plans to discuss its next step toward passing an ordinance at tonight’s briefing.