Salt Lake City

City Council

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Accessory Dwelling Units

At its Tuesday, October 16 meeting, the Council adopted changes to the City’s regulations for Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs), commonly known as mother-in-law apartments. The changes will allow ADUs in more areas of the City. Previously, the only properties eligible for new, legal ADUs were those located ½-mile or less from a fixed transit stop for Front Runner, TRAX or the S-Line. The previous rules significantly restricted the number of eligible properties. In fact, only one ADU permit has been granted by the City since 2012.

The changes the Council adopted will:

  1. Allow ADUs citywide, rather than based on a boundary area or proximity to a fixed transit stop
    1. Make ADUs a conditional use in the FR (Foothill Residential District) and R-1 (Single Family Residential) zoning districts. These are the zoning districts that only allow detached single family dwellings.
    2. Allow ADUs a permitted use in all other residential zoning districts that already allow duplexes, triplexes, and multi-family as permitted uses. (SR-1, SR-3, R-2 RMF-30 RMF-35, RMF-45, RMF-75, RB R-MU-35, R-MU-45, R-MU, and RO)
  2. Eliminate the permit limit of 25 ADUs per year in the City
  3. Clarify the definition of “owner occupied”
  4. Require properties with ADUs to have a deed restriction stating that an owner must occupy the property.
  5. Provide different design standards for Attached and Detached ADUs.
  6. Amend the wording of some standards for clarity.

Read the adopted ordinance.


The Council held several discussions and public hearings in 2017 about proposed improvements to the City’s approach to ADUs, without settling on option that felt right for Salt Lake City. The Council asked the City’s Planning Division to incorporate additional changes into the proposal, which the Council began discussing in Spring 2018. The current proposal the Council is considering is the result of much Council discussion, straw polls, feedback from constituents, and work by the City’s Administration.

Potential Benefits and Challenges of ADUs

The City is pursuing these changes because allowing more residents to have ADUs on their properties can be beneficial. ADUs, when designed and managed responsibly, can:

  • Create new housing units
  • Provide more housing options in residential areas
  • Allow more efficient use of existing housing stock
  • Support affordable housing options
  • Support transit oriented development and reduce automobile dependency
  • Support economic viability of historic structures
  • Support aging in place for older residents

ADUs can also present challenges, including:

  • Impacting the character of single-family residential neighborhoods through increased density
  • Increasing traffic and parking issues
  • Enforcing the ordinance and monitoring for these impacts

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