HOUSING + HOMELESSNESS

Salt Lake City planners recommend changes in how single-family neighborhoods get zoned

May 10, 2024, 3:00 PM

a neighborhood in murray -- Salt Lake City Planning Division recommends zoning changes for single-f...

Homes in Murray on Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2024. (Megan Nielsen/Deseret News)

(Megan Nielsen/Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY– A new report from the Salt Lake City Planning Division recommends zoning changes for single-family neighborhoods to help address the city’s housing supply crunch. Any changes could affect residential areas from Sugar House to Rose Park.

Here are some of the main suggestions from the report:

  • Reducing the minimum size of single-family housing zones. R-1, or single-family housing zones, would have a baseline of 5,000 square feet instead of 7,000 or 12,000. That could potentially allow owners of 5,011 lots to subdivide their property and build a new housing unit on top.
  • Allowing single-family attached housing units. These could look like duplexes, townhomes, or detached cottages. Attached single-family units would help create what the report called “missing middle housing.” That refers to the above examples of buildings between the size of a detached single-family home and a mid-rise apartment building.
  • Consolidating all single-family rules into one chapter. This would simplify zoning laws, but “will not help address housing issues or needs.”
  • Keeping the three types of single-family housing zones. This would maintain the status quo.

Other recommendations include eliminating the minimum lot size entirely and lowering the required “setback,” or distance between the street and a home.

Predicted responses to recommended zoning changes in Salt Lake

The report predicted blowback from certain homeowners if the Salt Lake City Council were to choose either of the first two options.

Related: “Priced out and Fed Up”: survey finds issues with housing affordability

It said this resistance could be especially intense in neighborhoods set aside for 7,000 to 12,000-square-foot lots. However, many of these owners are already noncompliant with city law and have houses built on parcels smaller than the required minimum. This change would make many noncompliant lots legal.

The Planning Division said the path of the attached single-family housing unit “will generate a high level of opposition.” However, it also said the plan would probably result in new home construction.

Neighborhoods that could feel the effects

According to a zoning map of Salt Lake City, some neighborhoods with R-1 zoning for 7,000 or 12,000-square-foot lots include Bonneville Hills and the East Bench.

Highland Park and Sugar House fall into the R-1/7,000 category. So do Rose Park and Glendale.

Most historic neighborhoods like Capitol Hill, the Avenues, and Central City would be exempt from any changes because of their special status. Only the Yalecrest neighborhood would still be affected.

The need for new housing

FJ Management CEO Crystal Maggelet told the Deseret News last fall that since 2011, Utah has lost 41% of its affordable housing. Maggelet told Deseret that is almost two times the loss experienced in California and New York.

According to Zillow.com, the average price of a home in the Salt Lake City area is just over $551,000.

Related: Unwelcome Home: Exploring the challenges of buying a home in Utah

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Salt Lake City planners recommend changes in how single-family neighborhoods get zoned