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Posts Tagged ‘backyard’

Providence is engaging in so many entertaining pop-up activities I can’t keep up. Suzanne sent this link about one that happened today. I guess it is what people mean when they talk about “placemaking.”

Chris writes at the blog for Our Backyard Rhode Island, “Where else but Our Backyard could you walk to dozens of parks in just one day? Today 32 temporary parklets have sprung up in Downtown, the West Side, and the East Side of Providence to mark PARK(ing) Day. More than 30 metered parking spaces have been transformed into temporary public parks. Designers worked with local businesses to find creative ways to add green space to the urban environment. They trucked in plants, Astroturf and picnic tables to create alluring stop offs for people out for a walk.

“On Matthewson Street, you can even use frisbees to play checkers on a board as big as a queen-size comforter. Organized locally by the RI chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects (RIASLA), the RI chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIAri), and Transport Providence, Park(ing) Day strengthens connections in Our Backyard.”

More here.

Photo: http://ourbackyardri.com/
A Providence parklet today.

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Kai sent a link to a story about a guy who has his mother living in a tiny house in his backyard.

I had to laugh. The house is about the size of my garage, and as much fun as it would be to live in a child’s playhouse, I can’t imagine what a born pack rat would do with all her clutter. (Not to mention, how many grown children want a parent living in the backyard?)

Sandy Keenan reports in the NY Times, “In most cities, adding a second house to a single-family lot would be illegal or would set off an epic battle with the neighbors that could drag on for years. But not in Portland, Ore.

“There, this kind of housing — referred to officially as ‘accessory dwelling units,’ but better known as granny flats, garage apartments or alley houses — is being welcomed and even encouraged, thanks to friendly zoning laws. And additional living spaces are springing up everywhere, providing affordable housing without changing the feeling or texture of established neighborhoods the way high-rise developments can. …

“Eric Engstrom, a principal city planner, has seen these small structures become increasingly popular during his 16 years working for the city. And as he put it, ‘Given the low vacancy rate, when they’re done, you can rent them out in about an hour.’ Which means that adding an accessory dwelling unit, or A.D.U., increases the value of a piece of property. …

“It was in 2010 when the biggest changes took place. That was when the city relaxed the limitations on size and began offering the equivalent of a cash incentive by waiving the hefty fees usually levied on new development. Other cities in the Northwest have been moving in this direction, but Portland is the first to offer a significant financial benefit and one of the few that does not require owners to live on the site, provide additional off-street parking or secure the approval of their neighbors.” More.

I know of at least one resort community that allows accessory apartments for family members. It’s a good idea, but there’s always the worry that in the season, some folks will just rent them out to tourists and still need a place to stay.

Photo: Laure Joliet for The New York Times
A 480-square-foot garage, now a home: one of many small dwellings encouraged by the city of Portland, Ore.

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