City council looks to transform single-family zoning across the city; bans Sugar House business district drive-thrus

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At its meeting last night, the Salt Lake City Council officially directed staff to study allowing duplexes in all residential zones across the city.

The motion, sponsored by Chair Darin Mano (D5), includes consolidating the city’s current single-family residential zones (R-5000, -7000, and -12,000 – the number designating minimum lot size) into a single category, and reducing minimum lot sizes.

Mano’s motion also included studying reducing or removing lot frontage requirements and “easing flag-lot standards.”

In a separate study, the council wants to “consider zoning map amendments along collector and arterial roads to allow greater residential density and mixed-use developments.”

The council’s “legislative action” – which creates no binding ordinance but rather directs administrative staff to work on a specific project that may result in new legislation – was in response to a request to rezone and amend the Sugar House master plan to allow development on an awkwardly-shaped “flag lot” at 1782 South 1600 East. A previous owner of the property had recorded a lot subdivision with the county recorder, but had never received approval for the subdivision by the city.

That petition was rejected 7-0 by the council.

The move signals disquietude over the city’s housing shortage as well as desires that housing solutions are applied equitably across the city.

Council Member Victoria Petro (D1), who seconded Mano’s motion, also expressed frustration that west side constituents along the District 1 and 2 border “are so tired of lot-by-lot rezones,” intimating that she is in favor of “a city-wide rezone, or a re-comprehension of zoning.”

Council representatives from the Avenues (Chris Wharton, D3) and the East Bench (Dan Dugan, D6)—neighborhoods notorious for their defense of the status quo in single-family housing—both expressed their hesitation with the motion but voted with the unanimous majority.

Sugar House drive-thrus

The council also voted to remove the permitted use designations for all drive-thru facilities in the Sugar House business district — CSHBD1 and CSHBD2.

The vote was unanimous. District 1’s Petro, who made the motion that was seconded by Sugar House representative Sarah Young (D7), addressed the Sugar House Community Council’s suggestion that banks and pharmacies be exempted from the ban to accommodate people dependent on their car for those services.

“I appreciate the Sugar House constituent that said, ‘that if you have a car it is not hard to drive outside the bounds of the business district’ [for those services].”

“For normal operating sanity, we need to save you guys from any further drive-thrus.”

Soren Simonsen, former two-term council member for Sugar House (D7), during the meeting’s public comment period, told the council, “I hope this is a beginning, not an end. There are at least 15 zoning districts in what we commonly call the Sugar House business district and tonight we’ve only taken action on two of them.”

Editor’s note: A previous version of this article stated that the owner of the property had recorded a subdivision with the county but not the city at 1782 South 1600 East. The correct information is that a previous owner had done so.

Email Luke Garrott

Interested in seeing where developers are proposing and building new apartments in Salt Lake, or just want to support a local source of news on what’s happening in your neighborhood? Subscribe to Building Salt Lake.

Posted by Luke Garrott

Luke Garrott, PhD, has published in The Salt Lake Tribune and the Deseret News, and written features for the Salt Lake City Weekly City Guide and The West View. A former two-term councilman in Salt Lake City's District 4, he lives in Downtown Salt Lake City and grew up in the Chicago area.