Weber County addresses lack of affordable housing

“We’re in a huge shortage of affordable housing not only in Weber County but across the state, across the country, and accessory dwelling units provide an excellent mechanism for individuals, couples, families to have an affordable place to live, to contribute to the care of another. The real estate community strongly supports the change.” – Rick Southwick, Northern Wasatch Association of Realtors

“[This change] balances the need for affordable housing and the interests of property owners. We think that this could be a model solution and hope it’s implemented wisely.” – Kay Hoogland, Ogden

On December 22, during a Weber County committee meeting, the council agreed on a measure to expand the allowance for more accessory dwelling units in the county. All along the Wasatch Front, there has been a growing need for affordable housing as Utah continues to grow.

This new measure is aimed at minimizing this issue and applies to all unincorporated parts of the county. However, Weber County Commissioner, Gage Froerer thinks its provisions are “particularly applicable in the Ogden Valley. Minimum lot sizes are generally larger in the Ogden Valley than in unincorporated western Weber County.” The allowance will include basement mother-in-law apartments or small secondary dwellings detached from homes.

“The change, approved by commissioners at the Dec. 22 meeting, won’t likely result in an immediate spike in the number of ADUs.

The change can also serve to focus on housing development. If a detached ADU is developed on a property in the Ogden Valley, the builder must first transfer development rights from another location in the area, theoretically resulting in clusters of housing and larger open areas where development doesn’t occur. The idea is to keep it so we don’t have sprawl,” – Commissioner Froerer

“The ADU proposal passed. But this was only after thoughtful consideration, lots of work by the planners and an opportunity for residents’ voices to be heard by the commissioners. The result was a very sound approach that builds on the Ogden Valley Plan that was developed in 2016.” Standard-Examiner

Additional Research

A Kem Gardner Policy Institute (University of Utah) study was released in Q4 2020 discussing affordable housing scenarios and the best ways to overcome them. They mention ADUs as an option for addressing the lack of affordable housing in Utah.

“While accessory units have been around for some time, they have emerged recently as a viable option in addressing affordable housing challenges. Their flexibility to serve as an affordable option while providing additional income makes ADUs an attractive housing product.”

In this same report, they mention a study by the University of California that found the average rents for an ADU was 58% below market value. Stand-alone dwellings can’t be larger than 1,500 square feet.

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