Accessory Dwellings

A one-stop source about accessory dwelling units, multigenerational homes, laneway houses, ADUs, granny flats, in-law units…

I’m semi-retiring! (On a personal note…)

Hi, it’s Martin, one of the founders and editors of .  If you’re a rabid reader of this site, or one of the very helpful contributors to our list of ADU regulations by city, you might have noticed I’ve been slow to approve your comments lately.  My apologies. I’ve taken on some new responsibilities that are making it hard to keep current on what’s happening in the field of ADUs.  For that reason I’m announcing my semi-retirement as an editor and the unofficial “numbers guy” here at the site.

photo by Ray Bouknight (Creative Commons)

photo by Ray Bouknight (Creative Commons)

What opportunity could possibly take my focus away from the low-key magic of ADUs?

Well, the picture of Crater Lake above is apropos.  Oregon is my state, ecology is my formal training, and environmentalism has been a big theme in my life.  That’s because I define “environmentalism” in the best possible way, as “a concern for one’s surroundings.”

I forget who came up with that wording, but it’s far superior to the more miserable formulations that suggest you need to suffer for the sake of some abstract green ideal.  “A concern for one’s surroundings” includes stuff that makes people’s lives better, like architecture and gardens — not just faraway wilderness or abstract statistics about ecosystem function (not that there’s anything wrong with that — that’s just not the whole story).

In fact, the reason I built my own ADU, and got involved in ADUs in the first place, was I wanted to show that living lightly on the earth and living well were not diametrically opposed.  Now that I think about it more and more, I’m ready to go even further — with human ingenuity, we can think about more than just “reducing harm” to the environment.  We can think about making it richer, better.  We can have positive impact.

Now I have an opportunity to work on this in a more official capacity.  I am the new “Goals and Measures specialist” for the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, Materials Management section.  I took a job at an agency after twenty years of freelancing and independent research because this agency came up with a fantastic vision for a sustainable Oregon, and I wanted to help bring it into reality.

Check out the “2050 vision” here.

The vision is necessarily phrased in abstract terms, like “sustainable share of the Earth’s resources” and “fulfilling lives.”  That’s what visions have to do.  My role will be to use my skill with research and numbers to help figure out how to measure progress toward that vision.

It’s an exciting task, but definitely more of a marathon than a sprint.  I’m going to have to pace myself, and part of that will be easing off on my responsibilities at  Oh, I’ll still be around, but won’t be on top of the most recent developments.  You’ll be in good hands with Kol, Eli, and Lina.

And of course, we’re dying to hear your own ADU stories. If you’ve built one or are doing original research on them, please write about it for us.  See you ’round the block!



About Martin John Brown

Martin John Brown is a researcher and consultant on environment and housing. Find out more at


This entry was posted on October 24, 2016 by in Opinion and tagged , , , , , , , .
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