Salt Lake City leaders look to legalize the building of ‘mother-in-law apartments’

SALT LAKE CITY – In an effort to provide more affordable housing, the Salt Lake City Council is considering changing rules to allow more accessory dwelling units or ADUs.

ADUs are sometimes called "mother-in-law apartments" or "granny apartments." Some are part of the main house, some are detached and have their own kitchen, bedroom and bathroom space.

“It’s been around since cities have been around. It’s really only been the last 50 years that it’s become illegal to do it in a lot of places,” said Brandon Dayton with the Rose Park Community Council.

Dayton says ADUs are the most common sense way to address the housing and homelessness issue in the city. Homeowners could also capitalize on economic opportunities.

“You can wait for a developer to come in and develop it which is going to typically take several parcels, depending on what’s surrounding it, or you can build it yourself and be able to reap the benefits of it,” said Nigel Swaby, a Fair Park resident.

Community leaders acknowledge illegal units already exist, but if a fair policy is put in place with more regulation, it would make things a lot safer for renters.

The idea of ADUs has been debated since leaders approved the ordinance in 2012. Some worry they might transform the character of the neighborhood, add to traffic and parking on the street would become more difficult.

“In Fair Park, where I live, we’re already challenged because we have people coming in for the fair and as the new stadium has been built we have people coming in for events on a weekly basis, and so parking is of great concern,” said Swaby.

While Rose Park community leaders support ADU’s, they want to make sure east side neighborhoods are included in the policy.

“I think there’s definitely an anxiety that west side residents are going to be asked to shoulder the burden for the housing needs in Salt Lake City,” said Dayton.

The Salt Lake City Council will hold a public hearing on September 19th and October 3rd at 7 p.m.

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