The Spring Valley City Council will hold a public hearing Monday, Aug. 22, on whether the city should allow permits for temporary family health care dwellings, also known as granny pods, in Spring Valley.

A state law passed in the last legislative session allows local governments to permit certain types of small, mobile housing units or recreational vehicles, as a way to provide transitional housing for seniors. The Minnesota League of Minnesota Cities cited an example of a family wanting to keep an eye on a grandparent recuperating from surgery in a temporary shelter in the driveway or yard.

The law will become effective on Sept. 1 unless cities decide to opt out of the state-wide legislation. If no action is taken, cities will be required to issue those types of permits as of Sept. 1.

Spring Valley City Administrator Deb Zimmer said she is recommending the city opt out of the program because it is difficult to monitor proper reasons for requesting them.

“How do you monitor if someone has a health issue?” she asked.

If Spring Valley does opt out of the state-wide program, it will have plenty of company. Northfield, St. Cloud, Minneapolis, St. Paul and many metro-area suburbs have banned the structures or are likely to, according to a report by Minnesota Public Radio.

One reason for the initiative by the Legislature is because a 2014 study by the Minnesota Housing Partnership projected the demand for affordable senior housing in Minnesota would jump by more than 50 percent over five years, but the need would be unmet.

However, the law requires these small, portable homes to be no bigger than 300 square feet and must be on property where a caregiver or relative resides. A medical professional also has to assure that the occupant needs help with two or more daily activities.

The permits under this law allow the pods to be used for six months with one six-month extension possible. One business is already making portable housing units that are a cross between a tiny home and an RV for use as granny pods. The units are typically selling for about $45,000, which is in the same price range as annual care for assisted living facilities or nursing homes in Minnesota.

While some communities are embracing the granny pods, recognizing the need to help residents find housing for aging or impaired family members, many are opting out. Some of those opted out due to the deadline of Sept. 1, which didn’t leave much time for consideration, something Zimmer mentioned to the council at the Aug. 8 meeting when she proposed setting the hearing.

“They don’t have time to spend much time discussing this right now to meet the Sept. 1 deadline,” Craig Johnson of the League of Minnesota Cities told MPR. “So people are opting out and may look at it further in the future as something they want to be a part of.”