Salt Lake City

Planning

Planning Division | (801) 535-7700 | zoning@slcgov.com

Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the zoning of my property?

Use the Online Zoning Map to look up zoning for a specific property by entering the address of the property.

How do I request a zoning verification letter?

Zoning Verification Letter is a request for information related to the present legal use of a property and if that use conforms to current zoning regulations. Most finance companies require this type of letter for properties during the appraisal process, to see if the properties are conforming or legal nonconforming to existing zoning standards. The letter usually will address the current use, whether the building can be rebuilt, if there are any outstanding zoning violations, open building permits, or if there are any variances, special exceptions or other planning approvals associated with the property.

You can request a Zoning Verification Letter online through the Citizen Access Portal. There is a Step-by-Step Guide to learn how to submit on-line. 

How do I change the use of a property?

Use the Zoning Look-up tool  to determine if the type of business you are trying to start at a particular address is allowed by entering the type of business and then the address of that property.  Once you determine the use is allowed, a Development Review Team meeting (DRT) is recommended. Set up a DRT meeting by filling out the online application and emailing it to DRT@slcgov.com.

For questions about the meeting and time frame, contact Katilynn at 801-535-6179.


Artificial Turf

Is artificial turf allowed for landscaping? What are the requirements?

Artificial turf is not permitted as a replacement for vegetation when meeting landscaping requirements in the front yard, corner side yard or park strip. The same applies to any buffer requirements or parking lot landscaping requirements. The required landscaping must be at least one-third live vegetation in the required front yard, corner side yard, and park strip.

The remainder of the landscaping must be an approved organic material such as turf, mulch, bark, rock and gravel. Artificial turf is only allowed in yards where there is no required landscaping such as the interior side and rear yard in single-family residential zones.


Business Locations

How do I determine where my business can be located?

The Zoning Look-up tool simplifies the site selection process for locating a new business. You can use this tool by entering the type of business you are trying to start. The map will highlight all the areas of the city where the use is allowed. If you know where you wish to locate your business and want to know if the use is allowed there, enter the property address.

Where are tobacco shops permitted?

The location of a tobacco shop is regulated by multiple levels of government and is a multi-step process. Below are the government offices which are involved.

Salt Lake City Permitting:

Tobacco shops are categorized as a retail sales use with the Salt Lake City Zoning Ordinance. While they are permitted in all zoning districts that allow retail sales by City ordinance, their exact location must meet State regulations and obtain the required permits from the Salt Lake County Health Department. For more information, contact Business Licensing at 801-535-7721.

Salt Lake County Health Department Permitting:

The Salt Lake County Health Department has a separate permitting process when applying for a City license. The County Health Department verifies the state location requirements are met when a business license application is submitted to Salt Lake City. It is part of the City routing process.

State Law:

The State of Utah has developed UtahTobaccoLaws.org to help tobacco retailers understand the laws and licensing requirements associated with selling tobacco and nicotine products. Tobacco shops are subject to distance requirements established in Utah State Code.

  • 1,000 feet from a community location (church, school, community center, library, public playground or park, youth center, childcare facility, or trade/ technical school)
  • 600 feet from another retail tobacco specialty business
  • 600 feet from property used or zoned for agricultural or residential uses.

Federal Law:

There are also federal laws that Utah tobacco retailers are required to follow. Visit the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for more information about retailer education materials and a full list of applicable federal laws.

What are the rules for short-term rental (Airbnb or Vrbo) in Salt Lake City?

The City does not currently have regulations or allowances for land use known as “short-term rental.” Currently, the City generally categorizes short-term rentals, such as Airbnb or Vrbo, as hotel, motel, or bed and breakfast uses because the lease period is less than 30 days. Any use that leases living space for less than 30 days cannot be considered a residential dwelling. Hotel, motel, and bed and breakfast uses are permitted in multiple zoning districts around the city. Hotel, motel, and bed and breakfast uses are generally not permitted in residential zoning districts.

Use our Zoning Look-up Tool to determine the zoning district for your property and if a hotel, motel, or bed and breakfast use is allowed. There may be additional zoning or building requirements depending on the number of rooms in the unit. An Administrative Interpretation is recommended for a building where a short-term rental will be located. The administrative interpretation determines in writing that you can use your property for a short-term rental. A Business License is required to operate a short-term rental.


Commissioners & Council Members

How can I find out who my Planning Commissioners, Historic Landmark Commissioners and City Council members are?

The Planning Commission consists of nine to eleven members balancing geographic, professional, neighborhood and community interests. Members are appointed by the Mayor and serve a four-year term.

The Historic Landmark Commission consists of seven to eleven members of citizens interested in historic preservation and are knowledgeable about the heritage of the city. The Commission should include at least two architects and other members who possess preservation related experience in archeology, architecture, architectural history, construction, history, folk studies, law, public history, real estate appraisal or urban planning. Members serve a four-year term.

Salt Lake City has other Boards and Commissions consisting of citizens who serve their community.

Find your City Council member.

Find your County Council member.

Find your State and National (U.S. House)(U.S. Senate) representatives.


Driveways

What are the requirements to expand or extend my driveway?

In residential zoning districts, any expansion of a driveway needs to lead to a legal off-street parking space. Parking is generally not permitted between the front property line and the front line of the principal building (the front face of the building) in residential districts (Table 21A.44.060). Off-street parking is only allowed to the side of a house or the rear. You will be required to obtain a building permit for any expansion of your driveway. To find out more about the permitting process, contact Building Services at 801-535-7938.

The Residential Driveway Design Guide provides additional information on permitted standards for driveways.

Where can I park a recreational vehicle on my property?

Recreational Vehicles (RV) are permitted in the rear yard. They are allowed in the side yards only if the rear yard cannot be accessed. RV parking is prohibited in the front yard area. No person can park a vehicle, boat, trailer, or other item upon any street for a period of time longer than 48 hours. See City ordinance 12.56.520 and 525.  You are required to provide screening by storing it behind a six-foot-tall fence.

The Residential Driveway Design Guide provides additional information on permitted standards for RV parking.


Duplexes

Is my duplex or single-family home nonconforming if it is in a zoning district that doesn’t allow them?

Section 21A.38.070 of the zoning ordinance recognizes all single-family homes and duplexes that met the zoning when they were built as legal conforming, regardless if a duplex or single-family home is allowed by the current zoning (with the exception of the manufacturing zones –see below). This means in the event the single-family home or duplex was destroyed or demolished voluntarily, it can be rebuilt. To verify you have a legal duplex or single-family home, you can request a Zoning Verification Letter online through the Citizen Access Portal. There is a Step-by-Step Guide to learn how to submit an online application. 

Duplexes and single-family homes located in manufacturing zones are an exception to this section of the ordinance. If a duplex or single-family home were to be voluntarily demolished and rebuilt in a manufacturing zone, it is required to have Planning Commission approval through a Conditional Use process. You can review the Zoning Ordinance for more information on Conditional Uses.

Can I convert my home to a duplex?

In order to convert your single-family home to a duplex, you must meet several criteria:

1. Verify that your property is in a zoning district that allows a duplex use, using our Online Zoning Map. Even if your neighborhood has duplexes, that does not mean a new one can be built today. They may have been built at a time when zoning regulations allowed them. They would, in that case, likely be legal, but construction of new duplexes may not be allowed under the current zoning.

2. If the property is located in a zoning district that allows a duplex, verify that the lot meets the minimum size requirement. You can look up your zoning district in Chapter 21A.24 of the zoning ordinance to determine minimum size. The minimum size requirement depends on the zoning district where the property is located.

3. Finally, consider where your off-street parking will be located on your property. Each unit is required to have a minimum of two off-street parking spaces. The four off-street parking spaces are required to be in the side or rear yard.

There may be other zoning and building code regulations that apply.
Please contact the Planning Counter at 801-535-7700 or by email at zoning@slcgov.com and contact Building Services at 801-535-7968 for additional information.

Can I build an Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) on my property?

An accessory dwelling unit is also referred to as a mother-in-law apartment, accessory apartment, second unit, or granny flat. An ADU is allowed on any property in a residential zoning district that includes a single-family home, townhome, or rowhome which are on their own individual lot. The property owner or an owner’s family member must live either in the principal home or the ADU.

If the property is in any FR or R-1 type zoning district, a Conditional Use approval is required. You can review the Zoning Ordinance for more information on Conditional Uses.

If you have a duplex, your property does not qualify for an ADU. There are rules about the location, size, and design of ADUs that are discussed in the ADU Handbook.


Fences

How tall can my fence be?

In general, your fence can be up to four feet tall in the front yard and six feet tall in the side and rear yards. There are other restrictions based on where the fence is located, proximity to a driveway or the sidewalk, topography, and more found in section 21A.40.120.

The Fences, Walls, & Hedges Design Guide provides more detailed information.

If your property is located in a Local Historic District, our design guidelines encourage you to retain and repair fences when feasible to preserve the character and design of site features. If a fence is not repairable or retainable, new fences should be compatible with the character of the neighborhood, considerations on design can be found in the Design Guidelines for Site Features. You will also need to apply for a Minor Alteration to ensure that a new fence is appropriate.


Garages

What are the requirements for a detached garage (accessory structure)?

All accessory buildings, regardless of size, must comply with the accessory building zoning regulations found in 21A.40.050.

The Accessory Building and Garages for Single and Two-Family Zoning Districts Guide provides detailed information on the City’s regulations.

If the property is in a Local Historic District, the detached garage will need to get planning approval through a Minor Alteration application. In addition, there are guidelines for detached garages on materials and garage door design along with the underlining zoning district to consider.


Historic Districts

What is the difference between a Local and National Historic District?

Historic districts are geographic areas that have a concentration of historic buildings, landscapes, and landmarks. Salt Lake City has two types of historic districts: Local Historic Districts and National Historic Districts. 

Look up your property on our Historic District Map to verify whether your property is in either a Local or National Historic District. All the locally designated districts in Salt Lake City are also listed on the National Register, but not all National Register districts are locally designated.

Most exterior changes to a building in a Local Historic District require approval from the Planning Division before obtaining the required building permits outside of painting wood and some landscaping.

A Step-by-Step guide for our application process will help you understand the possibilities for your property. Properties in a National Historic District only do not need Planning approval, however, you will need to obtain the required building permits.

Do I qualify for a tax credit if my property is in a Local or National Historic District?

Depending on the scope and scale of your project, you may be eligible for tax credits. The City does not regulate the Federal Historic Tax Credit or the Utah Historic Preservation Tax Credit program.

To find out information on how to qualify for tax exemption with home renovations, visit the Utah Division of State History website or contact them at 801-245-7277.


How to Research Projects

How do I find out about a new project in the city?

New petitions and permit information is available through our Citizens Access Portal. Click on the Building tab or Planning tab, then enter the address of the property. If the property has an active building permit or Planning petition with the City, it will be listed under the address.

To find out what zoning amendments are either proposed or in the process of being approved, you can check out our Pending Zoning Amendments page.


Nonconforming & Noncomplying

What does it mean if my property is legal nonconforming?

When your property is “legal nonconforming,” it means the use was established during a time when the zoning allowed it, but the zoning has since changed, and the use is no longer allowed. This is commonly referred to as a “grandfathered” use. In this case, the City recognizes the property as a legal use that does not conform with current zoning rules.

The use can continue if it is not abandoned for more than a year.  To find out more about the rules and regulations on modifying a nonconforming use, you can review section 21A.38.040 of the Salt Lake City Ordinance.

For questions about your use contact the Planning Counter 801-535-7700 or by email at zoning@slcgov.com.

What if my lot doesn’t meet the minimum size for the zoning district?

Some lots in the city are smaller than the minimum size allowed in the zoning district where they’re located. This can be because the lots existed before the current zoning was applied. The Nonconforming chapter of the ordinance allows them to be legally existing lots if they meet the criteria found in section 21A.38.060.

In general, if a lot is too small for the zoning district, the City will recognize it as a legal lot if it is recorded on a subdivision plat. To verify the lot is on a subdivision plat and to obtain a copy of the plat, you can contact the Salt Lake County Recorder’s Office at 385-468-8145.

If your lot is not recorded on a plat and it’s developed, you can request a Zoning Verification Letter online through the Citizen Access Portal. View the step-by-step guide to learn how to submit an online application. 

To determine if additional research is required contact the Planning Counter at 801-535-7700 or by email at zoning@slcgov.com.


Property Line

How can I find out where my property line is located?

A certified survey from a private surveyor is the most accurate way to determine a location for existing property lines. The City does not offer this service. However, you may be able to utilize a plat map from the Salt Lake County Recorder’s Office to estimate the boundary. Surveys are typically required to obtain a building permit for construction of a new building or structure.

How can I resolve my property line dispute with my neighbor?

Conflicts between property owners are considered a civil matter and the City does not get involved. If the dispute can’t be resolved between neighbors, then it is recommended you seek legal counsel with a land use attorney. The services of a land surveyor may also provide a resolution. The land surveyor and attorney may work together to resolve property disputes.


Rezoning

What is the process to rezone my property?

A zoning amendment is a request to change the existing zoning classification of property on the City zoning map. Any changes made to the zoning map need to be supported by the Master Plan for the area.

The process requires the Planning Commission to make a recommendation to the City Council who has final discretionary authority according to State and City law. For additional information view the Zoning Ordinance – Amendments section.

A pre-submittal meeting is required before applying for a rezone. To set-up an appointment contact the planning counter at 801-535-7700 or at zoning@slcgov.com


Tiny Houses

What are the rules for building a tiny house?

Tiny homes are understood as residential structures under 400 square feet.

Salt Lake City does not have special regulations regarding tiny homes. Construction of homes of any size are required to meet the rules and regulations of the zoning district in which they are located. Salt Lake City does not allow homes without a permanent foundation. There is not a minimum building size requirement outside of what building code requires.

Any movable structure with wheels is considered a recreational vehicle. The City does not allow recreational vehicles to be used as living space. RV’s can only be used as living space in designated RV parks within city limits.


Variance

What is a variance?

The definition of a variance is “a modification of a zoning requirement made necessary because some unique aspect of a parcel makes the requirement burdensome or unfair.”

Variances are strictly regulated by the State. The property owner must demonstrate that there is unreasonable hardship associated with their property that can’t be remedied through other processes found in the zoning ordinance.

To qualify for a variance, there must be a circumstance that is unique to your property and that other parcels in the zoning district do not have the same issues such as size, topography, or shape. Due to the unique circumstances, the property is deprived of the same use as other properties in the same zoning district.

If you believe that your property qualifies for a variance contact the planning counter staff at 801-535-7700 or at zoning@slcgov.com.


If you believe there is work being done without a permit, you can reach Civil Enforcement at 801-535-7225 or use the SLC Mobile App.

For additional information or questions, please contact us // zoning@slcgov.com