City Council to Consider updated proposal to expand accessory dwelling units in Colorado Springs

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Newly drafted ordinances for Accessory Family Suites (AFS) (commonly referred to as granny flats or in-law suites) and Accessory Dwelling Units (ADU) (commonly referred to as ancillary, auxiliary, or secondary apartments) will be presented to City Council on Tuesday, June 9, 2020. Due to COVID-19, the meeting will be held in an online and broadcast environment only. Councilors may gather at City Hall, however, public can view or using technology.

The proposed ordinances incorporate input gathered from the community, since they were first introduced in March 2019, from the various public outreach meetings that were held. The public input opportunities included open houses and City Council held town halls. Residents will have an opportunity to comment on the updated proposal during the council meeting. Please note this meeting will take place remotely to comply with local and state public health orders to slow the spread of COVID-19.

Key Takeaways of the proposed ordinances:

  • Accessory family suites do not increase the potential number of individuals living in a home more than what is currently allowed today
  • Only attached, integrated ADUs can be considered in single-family zone districts and must be approved by the City Planning Commission and must be owner-occupied
  • Detached ADUs will continue to be allowed in two-family and multi-family zone districts
  • Proposed ordinances will NOT supersede private covenants

Two types of dwellings

The proposed ordinances include two types of dwellings.

Accessory Family Suites (AFS): This type of unit can be one or more rooms forming a single living area with a full kitchen and bathroom, however, only one family may live on a property with an AFS. These are often referred to as mother-in-law suites or granny flats. They are attached/integrated into the main home, maintain an internal connection, and can take the following forms:

  • As a home addition which is separated from the main living area, but having a shared wall and internal connection point
  • A converted portion of the main home (such as a basement or upper floor) which also shares an internal connection point

Accessory Dwelling Units (ADU): These are secondary living areas on a residential lot or within the main home. They include their own kitchen, bathroom, and sleeping area, and allow a second family to live on the property in the second unit. They are often referred to as ancillary, auxiliary, or secondary apartments. ADUs come in a number of forms such as:

  • Detached (two-family and multi-family zone districts only)
    • Above a detached garage
    • A separate structure in the backyard
  • Integrated (single-family zone districts)
    • Attached to the main home
    • A converted basement or attic

What is in the proposed ordinances?

Ordinance 1.1 – Accessory Family Suites

As proposed, accessory family suites will be permitted by right in all zone districts where a detached single-family home is an allowed use. These types of units are permitted as part of a detached single-family residence, but would not be allowed as a detached structure. Currently a single-family home can be occupied by one “family” as defined in the zoning ordinance, which would continue to apply to properties that contain an accessory family suite.

Ordinance 1.2 – definitions and accessory dwelling units

A step beyond accessory family suites are accessory dwelling units. Accessory dwelling units would allow a second family, as defined in the zoning code, to occupy the property. Depending on the zone district, an ADU may be integrated into the primary home or be a detached structure. City Planning is proposing to allow integrated ADUs in single-family zones through the Conditional Use process with an owner-occupancy requirement. This ordinance also reduces restrictions and for detached ADUs in two-family and multi-family zones where they are currently allowed.

Ordinance 1.3- accessory dwelling unit overlay zone

The purpose of the accessory dwelling unit overlay zone is to provide flexible housing options for new residential development. The ADU overlay may only be used in conjunction with the zoning of new residential development, and may not be applied to existing neighborhoods. The intent of creating an ADU overlay zone is to provide an additional avenue for a developer to allow accessory dwelling units without requiring a PUD (Planned Unit Development) or R-2 (Two-Family Residential) zoning.


For a complete list of provisions for each proposed ordinance visit


Current Ordinance

Proposed ordinance


Detached ADU

Integrated ADU

(Single-family zone districts)


Detached ADU

(Two-family & Multi-family zone districts)

Accessory Family Suite

Approved Zones

Two family and Multi-family

Single-family zones: Will require public notification and approval of a Conditional Use Permit through the City Planning Commission.



Single-family zones: not permitted.


Two-family and multi-family zones permitted with requirements.

Permitted by right in all zone districts where a detached single-family home is an allowed use including Planned Unit Development zones.

Number of Families
Living on Property

Two families

Two families but must also be owner-occupied

Two families

One family: A notarized and recorded affidavit will be required acknowledging the requirement

Parking Allowance

One off-street parking space for each unit.
Two parking spaces

One off-street parking space for each unit.
Two parking spaces

One off-street parking space for each unit.
Two parking spaces

One off-street parking space.
Two parking spaces

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