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Richmond Considers Accessory Dwelling Units To Deal With Rising Population

Richmond 300 Draft Map
Draft land use map for Richmond 300. Some residents in future medium-density areas are concerned about growing populations. (Photo: Richmond 300)

*VPM intern Patrick Larsen reported this story.

Officials are gathering resident feedback on the city’s 20-year master plan, Richmond 300. It aims to tackle issues like environmental sustainability, housing and transportation — and develop a blueprint for future land use. 

As the city continues to grow, so will the demand for places to live. The strategies they’ve proposed to address increased housing needs include rezoning the city to allow accessory dwelling units (ADUs) in all residential districts. 

ADUs offer additional small residences on generally single-use plots. Mark Olinger, who heads Richmond’s Office of Planning and Development Review, said they’re an effective solution for the city’s growing population and unchanging size.

“To add some modest amount of other housing type into a neighborhood that doesn’t alter its character, but adds additional housing options,” Olinger said.

At a Richmond 300 meeting this week, several people living in low-density communities raised questions about the possibility of adding accessory dwelling units (ADUs) to single-family properties. They said they’re concerned places like the West End will become crowded, or that new construction will look out of place. Other residents at the meeting pointed out that codes and zoning requirements could address aesthetic concerns.

Officials said ADU’s have been successful in cities like Minneapolis, and that Richmond could follow suit to create more entry-level places to live. Olinger said further research is being done on how ADUs would work in Richmond.

The public can comment on the plan at any of the Richmond 300 meetings taking place this month. After that, city staff will develop a draft master plan using resident feedback. It’ll be shared during a final community input session in early 2020. 

Here is a full list of upcoming meetings:


  • October 29, 6-7:30 P.M.

Patrick Henry School of Science and Arts Auditorium 3411 Semmes Avenue


  • October 30, 6-7:30 P.M.

MLK MS Auditorium 1000 Mosby Street 

Residents can also visit Richmond 300 to give feedback online.

VPM News is the staff byline for articles and podcasts written and produced by multiple reporters and editors.
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