Saturday, August 17, 2019

Proposed changes for accessory apartments - updated

(8/19/2019 updated for clarification) Over the past year, the Council Housing Committee has been working on finding ways to increase the number of affordable units within Provo City. One of the ways in which this has been considered is by easing the requirements on, and increasing the number of, accessory units. This applies to areas currently zoned with "A-" and "S-" overlays (indicated in residential zoning with an "A" or an "S" following the zoning designation).

Recently, the Council put this consideration forward to the Planning Commission and received a positive recommendation.  However, before the Council moves forward with the legislation they would like to receive input from residents.

The proposed legislation will be discussed during the 27 August Work Meeting and formally considered during Council Meeting on 10 September 2019. Below are the highlights of this proposed legislation (with new provisions highlighted in yellow):

  • Combines the two zones into one code chapter and clarifies similar terms
  • Allows for an unattached accessory dwelling unit that meets these criteria:
    • Minimum lot size of 6,000 square feet
    • Height of unattached accessory less than the main dwelling and does not exceed 20 feet in height
    • Minimum size of the accessory unit must be greater than 200 square feet
    • Setback of the unattached accessory shall be a minimum of 10 feet
    • Accessory unit must be architecturally compatible with main dwelling
    • Unattached accessory must have separate utilities
  • In order to have any accessory unit, the main unit must be at least 1,200 sq. feet
  • Owner may occupy the main or the accessory unit.
  • Accessory shall not have more than two (2) bedrooms unless the owner applies for, and receives a Conditional Use Permit allowing up to a maximum of four (4) bedrooms. The Permit requires proof of adequate parking for the occupants of the additional bedrooms.
  • May not be occupied by more than two (2) (in the A-overlay) or four (4) (in the S-overlay) related or unrelated individuals, with or without minor children.
  • Minimum of four parking spaces required for the accessory/supplementary unit and the main unit, and not less than the number of vehicles being maintained on the premises.
  • Accessory Dwelling Units (ADU) will now formally be considered rental dwellings, thereby requiring a valid signed Rental Dwelling License
  • There is some code clean-up and a clarification of terms
This comparison chart may be helpful in understanding the differences between the existing and the proposed ordinances.

If there are questions related to this legislation, please contact Bryce Mumford of the Council Office at 801-852-6135. Leave your comments below or send an email to

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Jake Reedy said...

I have been waiting on this for years. Really excited about it as I think that it is a big win win for homeowners as well as renters.

Cameron said...

Does three parking spaces for the units man 3 each (6 total) or three total?

Roger Pack said...

If the goal is to increase affordable housing units, why not allow ADU in all residential zones? Real question, BTW...

sage said...

So they are saying you have to get the governments permission to rent out your own property. Ridiculous. The right to own and control property is supposed to be guaranteed in the supreme law of the land. But they don't adhere to law. They make regulations and rules, then penalize for trying to obey the supreme law of the land. Where did freedom go?

Anonymous said...

All homes should be allowed to also have accessory apartments. This "fix" will take years upon years to implement as it will also cost an average of $75k to build an accessory dwelling. Why is the council opposed to using facts and stats to making decisions and just allow accessory dwelling units citywide?

defondit said...

The bullet points on parking are asking for a contradiction. Is the law going to be a minimum number of parking spaces, or adequate parking, or both? Why not simply define an "adequate parking" clause more clearly? Will street parking count in the "adequate parking" count? For example, my neighborhood has several cases of houses with accessory apartment in which the three-car minimum will be limiting. We have, for example, one car per family in a duplex, and are committed to keeping it that way. Why the need for an extra third spot? A simpler clause about adequate parking, and some enforcement, should solve these conundrums. It will require homeowners to enforce car restrictions on their renters, but I see that as a reasonable thing to ask, especially for established residential neighborhoods.

defondit said...

Additionally, what fees will be associated with the rental license? What other standards are in place for dwellings to ensure they are livable? How will this affect attached units (basements, etc.?) How will this affect current regulations on temporary rentals?

Unknown said...

I support this move to rental dwellings, especially the detached kind. What a great way to finance a garage by putting a rental dwelling above it and using the rent to pay for the construction costs. Of course, with any program like this, there will need to be oversight by some entity to verify that people aren't abusing the system, or their neighbors trust. The city is the most logical system to verify conformity unless you want to go with an HOA. Too many people in my neighborhood renting to more people than is currently allowed. Speaking to SAGE here. Hope this leads to an ordinance that adopts the creation of pocket neighborhoods.

Provo City Council said...

@defondit Provo City Code Chapter 6.26 covers rental dwellings. A single rental dwelling with one unit pays $20 annually, more than one rental dwelling unit pays $60 for the license. Inspections are required for issuance of rental dwelling licenses and may be inspected again where reasonable cause exists to believe the rental dwelling is in violation of an applicable law or ordinance. The A&S overlay ordinance does not address short term rentals, which are by ordinance restricted to specific zones in the city.

Provo City Council said...

The proposed ordinance amendment would only affect areas currently under the A- and S-overlays. Council is willing to consider expanding the overlays by request of the neighborhoods. You can get an idea of where the current overlays are from this zoning map:

Peter M Kaanapu said...

Having a detached accessory apartment is a good idea. I suggest that the main house requirement be lowered to a minimum size of 1,000 sq.ft.

It is not clear to me in the description which states that you can have a detached unit but must still have an interior connection. Please clarify

Provo City Council said...

Peter, the interior connection requirement does not apply for detached units.

Unknown said...

I agree with the suggestion that the main house requirement be lowered to a min. size of 1,000 sq. ft. Many of the houses in my neighborhood, including those with accessory apartments, are smaller. I lived in an accessory apartment where the main house (3 bed, 2 bath) was only ~1130 sq. ft.

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