Accessory Dwelling Units in West Jordan

The City Council is looking for input on Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs). Currently, ADUs are only permitted in very limited fashion within West Jordan, making many existing ADUs illegal. The apparently high number of existing illegal ADUs reflects a strong demand for this type of residential housing. Since this use is already occurring illegally on a wide scale, potentially amending West Jordan’s local laws to more commonly permit ADUs may protect the safety and character of existing neighborhoods. We understand that there are both pros and cons to potentially amending local law to more widely legally permit ADUs. 

 

What is an accessory dwelling unit?

 

An accessory dwelling unit is an additional living quarters on a single-family lot that is independent of the primary dwelling unit.  It contains a separate living space which is equipped with kitchen and bathroom facilities and can be either attached or detached from the main residence.

Why should the City of West Jordan consider allowing accessory dwelling units?

 

The demand for homes has significantly increased due to the increase of population and formation of new households.  Population projections for Salt Lake and surrounding counties from 2015-2065 show the population continuing to grow rapidly.

Table 1: Utah Population by County

Source: Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute 2015-2065 State and County Projections; Demography UTAH Population Committee 2010-2016 Population Estimates

With the population increase new households will be formed.

Table 2: Utah Households by County

 

Source: Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute 2015-2065 State and County Projections; Demography UTAH Population Committee 2010-2016 Population Estimates

 

With the population increase new households will be formed.

 

Due to the increase in population and number of households formed, the number of dwelling units required also rises.  To date, the number of available dwelling units has not been able to keep up with the demand.  The difference between the number of dwelling units and the number of households is referred to as the housing gap.  According to the Housing Gap Coalition formed by the Salt Lake Chamber, over the last ten years a housing gap of 54,000 units has accrued.

 

As demand for housing is outpacing the supply, the price of available housing is skyrocketing, in part, because availability of undeveloped land is diminishing, the cost of building materials is increasing, and there is a shortage of construction labor.  Since 1991, Utah’s housing prices have increased at a faster rate than housing in San Francisco, San Jose and Seattle, and are now 20% higher than competing urban markets such as Boise and Phoenix.  Below is a comparison of the median sales price of houses, by county, in September of 2017 and 2018.

 

Table 3: Median Sales Price of Homes September 2017, 2018

 

Source: Utah Association of Realtors.  Local Market Updates by County.  September 2018.

 

Currently, there are many accessory dwelling units created illegally by homeowners in the City.  By allowing the permitting of accessory dwelling units within the City of West Jordan, those units will conform to building codes, design standards and zoning requirements, which will protect the safety and character of the neighborhood.  Accessory dwelling units will contribute to the ability of young adults, elderly people, people with lower incomes, and multi-generational families to live in private, independent homes.

 

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