Missoula citizens are agonizing over the future of our little burg. It's a heavy burden and, as such, some feel compelled to share it.
For example, local resident Bob Luceno waxed poetic about his burden in an email sent to the Missoula City Council just after 4 a.m. on April 23. "I cannot sleep, I grieve for the city of Missoula which will groan under the terrible and heavy weight of the most unwise, radical council leadership in the history of the city," he wrote.
The author's anxiety stems from the likelihood that Missoula lawmakers will soon allow accessory dwelling units, also called "granny flats," in single-family residential neighborhoods. Luceno told the council that he watched in dismay hours before as six council membersa majority that nightvoted to legalize ADUs. That vote constituted one of two needed to make the proposal law. The next vote is scheduled for May 6.
With (A)D(U)-Day creeping closer, writers are using increasingly colorful language to make their points. One local even bestowed "a big raspberry," or what some may call a "zerbert," to council members supporting ADUs "against the will of the people."
While the idea of giving pro-ADU council members raspberries isn't necessarily displeasing, we can't help thinking that granny flats are getting a bad rap. First of all, since the city legalized ADUs in multifamily districts in 2009, only a handful have been constructed. That's probably because the ADU ordinances are so restrictive. If the new law passes, history suggests an alley-house explosion is unlikely.
Second, ADU proponents have steadily painted Missoula as a longtime haven for idyllic single-family residential neighborhoods, but that's simply not the case. Missoula didn't create its first zoning law until 1932, when the council passed an ordinance limiting development to two units per parcel even in the Garden City's lowest-density district.
Since then, the city has created numerous laws to govern growth, many of them contentious. Despite the high drama and colorful language used by current naysayers, our city has survived. Hopefully Luceno and other critics take comfort in thatand get some sleep.