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Provo Municipal Council votes on ADU limits after four-hour debate

By Genelle Pugmire - | Dec 15, 2021
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Homes can be seen along 600 N. in Provo on Wednesday, Dec. 15, 2021.
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Homes can be seen along 600 North in Provo on Wednesday, Dec. 15, 2021.

On Tuesday, the Provo Municipal Council voted to accept a minimal ordinance on accessory dwelling units to comply with the state legislature’s HB82 on such dwellings.

“This brings us into technical compliance,” said City Council Chairman David Sewell. The vote was 5-2 in favor of the ordinance. Councilmembers David Harding and Shannon Ellsworth were the two “no” votes.

Getting to this vote took the council several months of discussion, research by the housing committee and more than four hours of discussion Tuesday. The final vote was passed at 11:04 p.m.

The ordinance covered just a few main items. Others are to be addressed as soon as the new council comes on the first week in January. Councilman David Shipley asked for an ad hoc committee to focus specifically on ADUs.

Ellsworth noted that is all the housing committee, of which she is a member, has done for the past six months.

The ordinance provides for the following:

  • ADUs are prohibited in 62.84% of residential areas of the city.
  • The A and S overlay zones are gone.
  • Occupancy remains at two unrelated adults in an ADU.
  • The council is to look at how to expand eligibility for ADUs.

Referring to the council getting back to work on it and expanding the ordinance, the outgoing councilman Harding said, “We aren’t going to make any real expansion, prove me wrong. We should ask ourselves why did the state choose ADUs?”

He said he was concerned people don’t have a place to live in this community and that ADUs could help with the housing shortage.

For residents speaking on the issue during the public hearing portion, it appeared that enforcement and parking issues were their main concerns.

“It would be important to let neighborhoods decide what they want to do,” said Robert Todd, a Provo resident.

Grant Pace said his family chose to live in Provo because of the nice neighborhoods and homes, now he is worried he will be living in a “student ghetto.”

A number of council members and residents noted they had talked with state legislators about the bill passed in the last session that dictates the percentage of ADUs that should be allowed in towns, particularly ones with colleges and universities. The intent was not to make it harder on cities, according to one resident.

“We should be doing all we can to help housing,” said one resident who identified himself as a student.

Resident Linda Crandall said there are plenty of apartments and townhomes in her area and that more are being built.

“Provo is notorious for not enforcing rental issues,” Crandall said.

“My biggest concern is parking. There needs to be a penalty and that means hiring more people,” said Cathy Giles of Provo.

Provo resident Alan Swenson echoed Giles, “We need more enforcement.”

Both Michael Middleton and James Spears of Provo agreed that there needs to be better enforcement and the city has no resources or resolve to enforce the ordinance.

Austin Hardy of Provo says he endorses ADUs. “Housing affordability is a problem for me and it’s too expense to live in Provo.”

David Harmon, a real estate broker, said there are a few ADUs in his neighborhood and they are not a problem.

“I don’t see that it’s going to spread everywhere,” Harmon said. “The value of homes is not going to go down. A lot of homes are not going to qualify for an ADU.”

Before Tuesday’s ordinance change, ADUs were a permitted use throughout the whole city. According to Brian Jones, city attorney, the evening has two objectives; to consider a city ordinance that meets the format for prohibiting ADUs, and where they should be prohibited. The council accomplished one out of two of those.

A few of the residents asked that the neighborhoods themselves be allowed to determine if ADUs should be allowed.

ADUs include internal and external apartments (like ones built over garages), mother-in-law apartments and places for children to live with their families if they need a place. All homes with ADUs are to be owner occupied.

Councilman Bill Fillmore said he would like to see what tweaks may be made to HB 82 this coming session and also what the outcome may look like with the recent changes to BYU off-campus housing options. Those options allow sophomores, and above, the right to live where ever they want without it being BYU approved housing.


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