Temporary Health Care Dwellings

Earlier this year the Minnesota Legislature passed a law that would allow for the placement of temporary health care dwellings on private property.

The idea is that if you have a relative who needs some living assistance you could put a temporary structure (think trailer home) in your yard and have them live near you while they recover.

The League of MN Cities has a good recap of the law here.

Unfortunately, though the law was well-intentioned, the implementation of the law as written would be problematic in a fully developed and dense suburban city like Crystal. For example, the setback requirements in the law would exclude the majority of lots in Crystal from ever hosting a temporary dwelling.

The way the law is structured, cities have the option to “opt-out” of the law entirely, or to accept the law in its entirety. There isn’t an option to partially adopt or modify the law. ¬†We do, however, retain the right to regulate land use through our regular zoning and planning authority.

After discussion at the council work session this week, it is very likely Crystal will vote to opt-out of the law at our next meeting. Many of our neighboring cities will likely do the same.

The City’s Code Review Task Force, which was created by the council last year and is reviewing our City Code chapter by chapter, recently discussed the topic of land use for similar types of structures.

The recommendation from the task force was that the council should have a more in-depth conversation about how temporary or permanent small dwellings could or should work in Crystal.

As our population continues to age there has been a national trend related to “tiny houses”, “granny pods“, temporary health care “drop homes” and other types of smaller dwellings.

Although we will be opting-out of the state law on temporary health care dwellings, the Council is committed to discussing this topic in a comprehensive manner and coming up with policies that make sense for Crystal.

An important part of that process will be seeking feedback from you. If you have any thoughts about the topic, please let me know.

8 thoughts on “Temporary Health Care Dwellings”

  1. Although I like this idea, it’s important to opt out. That way as a city we can set our own standards. I often think about my mother-in-law and if she got sick how we would care for her. This could be an option as long as the proper regulations were in place. I think some questions that need to be asked is Should all properties be allowed or only certain size properties? How long can this temporary housing be for? Is it for the sick person only, or could a pca or nurse spend the night in it as well? These are just a few questions I would like to see answered.

    1. Thanks for the feedback. One of the issues with the state law was that it seems to limit the time to one year (though the law is a little unclear) which seemed short to me. Good if the person recovers, but not good for a situation where an elderly relative may need to stay for longer. Good question on the second individual spending the night. I’ll make sure that’s added to the discussion.

  2. Why does it have to be all or nothing? There are lots in Crystal that could accommodate these pods. If some,people that meet the criteria decide to use the pods it should provide interesting information about how they work and what additional things should be considered to expand or modify a program.
    Research has proven the benefit to families in care, outcomes and cost savings.

    1. The way the state law is written, you are either in the program or out. The primary concern that came up among the council members is that the state law was too restrictive. We’re looking to create something that fits better within Crystal.

    2. I like those questions. I think they, along with others (like: what constitutes a temporary dwelling?) Need to be answered before we can have those here. Plus, we don’t need mini-homes on every townhouse lot…

  3. Wow! I guess I should have seen this coming. I am glad Crystal is taking the stance they are; there is so much to consider with something like this. Looking at how some properties are currently cared for, I think it’s very important that the City takes proper time to review, and look out for all citizens. Also important that we as citizens have a chance to weigh in. Personally, I am not in favor of this overall, but happy to consider reasonable proposals that would protect all citizens.
    Thank you, Jeff!

  4. Would it be acceptable to loosen addition restrictions to already existing dwellings, allowing more people to be able to add onto their existing homes in lieu of getting a semi-permanent structure like the tiny homes or granny pods? I think that adding square footage and increasing taxable value with permanent additions that may encroach on easements or property lines may be the answer instead.

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