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As city approves mother-in-law apartments, concerns still linger

Local News

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (News4Utah) – Salt Lake City has approved mother-in-law apartments for any part of the city, instead of just near TRAX stations. Leaders hope it will start to deal with the affordable housing crisis, but others still have concerns about density and parking in neighborhoods not meant to handle it.

Clayton Morgan is a homeowner who’s excited about the passage of the ordinance and already has plans to expand his garage.

“The intent is we have a one bedroom apartment above the garage,” said Morgan.

He hopes to have the option of his mother coming to live with them when she gets older. Morgan also believes it will be ideal for people as they get older and need less space.

“It gets really expensive to try and stay in the city and try and downsize or trade your house for something that fits your new lifestyle where you don’t have kids,” said Morgan.

Salt Lake City Chairperson Erin Mendenhall notes this won’t solve the entire affordable housing crisis but will be a good first step. It could serve a wide range of people’s needs.

“So as we look as a council at expanding housing opportunities from the very young to the very old,” said Mendenhall. “ADUs will help us fill a certain portion of the housing need.”

There are several requirements to build one of these units. An owner must still live on site and have at least one parking spot for the extra unit. Although an exemption can be made through a process. The city said a recent analysis shows there is plenty of street parking in the city, but if a neighborhood has issue approval will be taken on a case by case basis.

Even with the new rules, Mendenhall doesn’t believe they will start popping up all over the city. She notes that in cities like Portland, Ore. where these units are encouraged. They only exist in about 1.5 percent of homes.

“I can’t see that being a great and sweeping change throughout the city because they will be somewhat costly to build.”

Leaders also hope those which already exist off the radar will get registered with the city. Like all other civil matters, they will only inspect if a formal complaint is filed.

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