ADUs have been proposed throughout Salt Lake City under new ordinance

This map shows where Salt Lake City residents have proposed building accessory dwelling units (ADUs), or small residences that are built in a basement, retrofitted garage or above an existing garage. The grey area shows a boundary where the City Council initially considered blocking ADUs from being built.

Six months into Salt Lake City’s new ordinance allowing for accessory dwelling units citywide, the owners of 12 property owners have proposed building the mother-in-law units in neighborhoods across town.

Two proposed ADUs were later withdrawn, leaving 10 at various stages in the process.

An initial review shows property owners are proposing building them in neighborhoods throughout the city. Two of the proposed units are in neighborhoods that would have otherwise been blocked by a boundary the City Council considered implementing in wealthier areas of town.

The initial interest of homeowners looking to build or retrofit portions of garages or homes into a separate living space for renters may provide a peek at what an inclusive ADU ordinance can do to help the rental market and add light density to Salt Lake City neighborhoods.

Initially, the council was going to cap at 25 the number of ADUs allowed in the city. The council also nearly blocked them north of South Temple in the Avenues and Federal Heights and east of 1300 East in neighborhoods along the East Bench.

The initial boundary was viewed as contrary to the city’s stated goal of providing equitable housing across town. It also likely would have been challenged for blocking ADUs in wealthy areas of town (where homeowners may be more likely to afford to build an ADU).

The updated ordinance, which no longer includes a boundary, passed by a 5-to-1 council vote in October. The vote came after nearly a decade of debate and pushback from some residents from affluent areas of town and their representatives on the council.

The ordinance includes height, parking and property ownership requirements.

Homeowners in neighborhoods that already allow for missing middle and multifamily properties can build their ADUs by right, but must meet the parking and footprint requirements. In contrast, property owners that want to build ADUs in the FR (Foothill Residential District) and R-1 (Single Family Residential) zoning districts will need to go through the conditional use process which requires approval from the planning division.

New ADUs can’t be larger than 50 percent of the square footage of the home and can’t exceed the height of the primary residence. The city put together a guide for anyone interested in building an ADU on their property.

The City Council will take public comment Tuesday night on another proposed ordinance change it hopes will spur more affordable housing. The updates would allow for single-room occupancy units, or small apartments that include either a shared kitchen or bathroom.

The proposed ordinance would require round-the-clock presence from management.

It also wouldn’t allow the micro-apartments to be developed in single-family zones, which leaves out the wealthier neighborhoods in town. That ordinance change is on track for final consideration in May.

Posted by Taylor Anderson

Taylor Anderson grew up near Chicago and made his way West to study journalism at the University of Montana. He's been a staff writer for the Chicago Tribune, Bend Bulletin and Salt Lake Tribune. A move from Portland, Oregon, to Salt Lake City opened his eyes to the importance of good urban design for building strong neighborhoods. He lives on the border of the Liberty Wells and Ballpark neighborhoods.