During the 2021 legislative session, the Utah State Legislature passed Bill 82, Accessory Residential Unit Bill. Now Provo city council must determine how it will comply with this bill.
During Tuesday’s working session, city staff presented the riddle to council. According to Provo policy analyst John Magness, staff have been working on this issue for five months.
By definition, an accessory dwelling is inside a detached single-family dwelling. It is occupied by the owner. It is intended for long term rentals and should be in the same footprint as the existing accommodation. Most of the time, these are basement apartments. They have kitchens, bathrooms and separate living areas.
The problem is that the legislature, through HB 82, now requires cities with a university of more than 10,000 students to have 33% of their area available for ADUs. Provo allowed 20%, mostly in the neighborhoods surrounding Brigham Young University.
Council and staff are in the process of determining where the remaining 13% – or roughly 1,000 acres – of secondary suites will be permitted.
What is even more confusing is that an internal accessory dwelling is a permitted use in all urban areas except where it is not.
âADUs are allowed in R-1 zones with an A or S overlay, near BYU,â said Robert Mills, planning supervisor.
They are also allowed in agricultural zone A-1 or residential agricultural zones RA, but Provo does not have an RA zone.
Mills asked the board, “Do you want ADUs across town or just be compliant?” “
Staff offered some solutions to the board to discuss. For example, if allowed in an R1-6 zone, Provo has 242 acres not already zoned for secondary suites that could be used. But it’s still not close to 1,000 acres.
The staff has left it in the hands of the board to see how they want to proceed.
While HB 82 takes some of the word away from cities, it also makes city codes stronger and more enforceable. For example, rentals will need to be authorized, off-street parking will need to be provided for each car attached to the home, and liens could now be placed on homes that do not comply.
There are a handful of other code requirements, but licensing and parking are two of the biggest issues.
âHB 82 is at odds with parts of the current code,â Magness said. He noted that the legal department was examining the ins and outs of the bill.
âWe want to make sure we’re all on the same page before we file any complaints,â Mills added.
It has been suggested that wards or at least ward presidents look into the issue.
City Councilor David Shipley said he thought it might be problematic to get advice from a neighborhood.
Some council members felt that by doing so, neighbors would say no to ADUs in their neighborhood when asked by council; responses like “not in my garden”.
âHB 82 has reshaped the way I think about this issue,â City Councilor David Harding said. âPreviously, ADUs were not allowed in Provo. This bill authorizes them everywhere. He rolled over on his head.
Harding added that before examining, “where does it make sense to have ADUs.” Now it’s “where it doesn’t make sense”.
“I would have preferred the state to have more terms where appropriate,” said Harding.
For now, it looks like the board, legal staff, and planning staff will need to think about it and come up with a workable solution for Provo. Then they can adjust the city code to match the bill.