Citizens who have struggled to find a good, affordable place to live in Tooele City may have just been given a helpful hand from City Hall. Such help may go a long way in strengthening family and neighborhood ties across the city, while creating other benefits too.
As reported in last Thursday’s edition, the Tooele City Council voted unanimously during its business meeting last Wednesday night to allow Accessory Dwelling Units. Prior to the vote, ADUs were prohibited under city code.
According to the American Planning Association, an ADU is a smaller, independent residential dwelling located on the same lot as a stand alone single-family home. ADUs can be converted portions of existing homes, additions to new or existing homes, new stand-alone accessory structures or converted portions of existing stand-alone accessory structures.
City code further defines ADUs as “a subordinate dwelling with its own eating, sleeping, and sanitation facilities” that is either located inside a primary residence, or in an attached or detached dwelling unit. Examples include basement apartments, garage apartments, carriage houses or tiny homes.
But the change doesn’t mean ADUs are going to pop up all over the city. Restrictions include minimum lot size, ADU size and parking. ADUs are only permitted in R1-7 or lower density zones. The minimum lot size for an attached or detached ADU is 8,500 square feet and 7,000 square feet for an internal ADU.
Attached ADUs also have a minimum size of 400 square feet, but can’t be larger than 800 square feet on one story, with a maximum size of 1,200 square feet. For detached ADUs, the minimum size is 800 square feet, with a maximum of 1,200 square feet. Internal ADUs have a minimum size of 400 square feet, but cannot exceed the square footage of the foundation of the primary dwelling.
Also, every ADU is required to have one additional on-site parking stall for every bedroom in the unit. And all ADUs have a two-bedroom limit.
What led the City Council to make the change was work done by Tooele City Attorney Roger Baker and the city’s need for more affordable housing. Last spring, Baker advised the City Council to consider allowing ADUs because the Utah Legislature wants cities to allow more affordable and diversified housing to help reduce the state’s housing gap.
By doing so, according to Baker, the city would help more young families find a place to live, allow older couples to age in place and remain close to their social networks, or citizens of all ages to become more part of existing communities instead of being forced into housing intended for their particular demographics. Also, pressure to build apartments or other multi-family housing would be reduced, saving greenspace from new development.
With such potential benefits, we published an editorial last spring in support of ADUs — but with limits. We urged that ADUs pratfalls of not setting size or location limits, or aesthetic requirements, must be resolved to prevent property value losses.
It appears, however, the City Council has approved a carefully crafted ordinance to allow ADUs without those pratfalls. A creative, win-win opportunity for citizens who have been looking for a welcome place to live may be at hand.