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15-Minute Cities – Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs)

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Let’s take a closer look at Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) that have been proposed for 15-minute cities. These small units are typically under 1,000 sq ft and were once considered secondary structures on an existing residential lot. Think of what we once considered “in-law suites” or guest houses. There are numerous designs for ADUs, but 15-minute cities will seek to create connected units to house as many people as possible. The exact plans for ADUs within 15-minute cities are shrouded in mystery, but we can ascertain what they have planned based on other proposed policies.

“You will own nothing,” as these structures will be built upon government and/or privately owned land for the people to rent. The 15-minute city is marketed as a futuristic town where everyone will live within 15 minutes of essential services. Some may say that large cities already meet this criterion, but the difference is that people currently have the ability to own their properties. Excess will not be possible in ADUs due to size. The World Economic Forum is also proposing more “micro-housing units” or “plug-in houses” that will be no larger than 500 sq ft. Cars will be unnecessary in these sustainable cities, as reducing fossil fuels and sustainability is the top priority.

Senseable City Lab analyzed 40 million mobile devices to analyze how and where people travel. The study backed by MIT found that people tend to travel 7 miles for essentials, which is much further than what is being proposed for 15-minute cities. Hence, the ADUs proposed for the 15-minute cities will be connected, one on top of the other, for this to work logistically.

Regulations and zoning restrictions need to be altered or dismantled for these cities to work. Another issue is equity and eliminating our “unfair” capitalistic societies where some have more than others. The C40 Knowledge Hub explains this premise to “build back better” in detail throughout their writings.

“In a successful 15-minute city, everyone would have the opportunity to live in a 15-minute neighbourhood. It is vital that cities prioritise 15-minute city-style investments for lower-income neighbourhoods and those that are most underserved, informed by the baseline mapping of existing amenities in each neighbourhood. Just as critically, take steps to ensure that existing local populations in those neighbourhoods are not displaced through the process of gentrification, or feel excluded due to changes to local identity. Cities should also pursue opportunities to build affordable homes and diversify the mix of homes within neighbourhoods.”

Equality in this manner does not meet the dictionary definition, as equality is intended to “prioritize the most underserved neighbourhoods and disadvantaged groups.” Hence numerous policies are being brought forth that penalize the middle class with taxes, shrinking the group that was once the bulk of modernized societies.

Sustainability, equality, and going green are cited as the main reasons to “build back better” with these 15-minute cities. However, the real motive here is control and power. They are discussing controlling everything, including food production. They are making it increasingly harder for the average person to obtain housing, whether it be rentals or owning. These AUDs will be brought forth as perhaps the only solution for permanent housing. Yet, they are making it clear that those dwelling in these structures will have landlords who may become overlords as the people relinquish all their freedoms to exist.