Salt Lake's ADU reforms would require most owners to live onsite
Salt Lake City is toying with the idea of making it easier for homeowners to add apartments in residential neighborhoods.
Why it matters: City planners hope accessory dwelling units (ADUs) — like mother-in-law suites and tiny backyard houses — will help relieve the housing shortage.
- The limited inventory of apartments has driven up rents, making housing unaffordable for many residents.
Driving the news: The City Council is looking at allowing property owners to add apartments without prior approval from the Planning Commission, along with other rule changes that would:
- permit larger detached ADUs;
- allow ADUs on some commercial properties and apartment buildings;
- and loosen parking requirements in some cases.
What we're watching: The city is debating whether owners could build ADUs on properties where they don't live, which is presently banned citywide.
- One version of the proposal would remove the owner-occupancy requirement in some areas — a move some housing advocates say is necessary to make a meaningful dent in the apartment shortage.
By the numbers: In California, for example, lawmakers banned cities from requiring ADU owners to live on-site in 2019.
- The number of ADUs built each year more than tripled from 2018 to 2021, with a rising share of permits going to units priced for moderate incomes or lower, according to data from California housing authorities.
- In Seattle, ADU development also has more than tripled since the city removed its owner-occupancy requirement in 2019, with about 80% charging below the city's median rent, according to a report this month.
The other side: Proponents of the owner-occupancy requirement say it helps deter investment companies from buying up single-family homes and turning them into multi-family properties as absentee landlords.
- In a council hearing last week, some residents complained those rentals could "degrade" neighborhoods.
What's next: The City Council is tentatively scheduled to vote on the new regulations at its April 4 meeting.
Erin's thought bubble: I've gotten lots of suggestions to rent out my Witch House, which unfortunately lacks plumbing, electricity or clearance for a human who stands taller than 5'5".
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