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Park City Planning Commission supports changing city accessory apartment regulations

Lynn Ware Peek
If the changes are approved, more affordable long-term rentals could come online in Park City.

The Park City Council wants more long-term rentals in town.  And they may consider changing the law to get them.

Accessory apartments in Park City are defined as units between 400 and 1,000 square feet that contain a kitchen, sleeping area, and bathroom and are attached to a single-family home or garage.

Currently, accessory apartments must be rented for at least 30 days, and the property’s owner is required to live in the home.

In order to incentivize more property owners to offer accessory apartments as long-term rentals, the city is considering changes to the city’s land management code.

The proposed changes are on an ongoing community survey on accessory apartments and were presented to the Park City Planning Commission this week. They include lengthening the minimum rental period to 90 days or longer, allowing detached accessory apartments, reducing the minimum square footage allowed, and eliminating the requirement that property owners live there.

Park City Economic Development Project Manager Jason Glidden told the planning commission that more work needs to be done before the city hones in on the specifics of the code changes, but said they would be aimed at a specific type of renter.

“You ask who is this for?" Glidden said. "Is it for teachers? Is it for restaurant employees? Yes. It’s for everybody, so we want to make sure that we are providing an [area median income] level that is going to be suitable for that target market that we’re talking about.” 

Glidden added the city is currently analyzing demographics and average wages in the area to help come up with specific targets. With few long-term rentals available in Park City at prices those in the workforce can afford, many choose to live outside the area.

The commission was largely in support of the changes, particularly extending the minimum rental period to 90 days or longer.

No longer requiring the owner to live in the home also had support from commissioners, but community responses on the issue were roughly split down the middle. City staff said eliminating that requirement could incentivize more accessory apartments at second homes or investment properties.

Commissioner Sarah Hall was in favor of the change.

“As long as it was not a short-term rental, I’d be fine with the main dwelling and the accessory dwelling unit both being a minimum of 90 days, so that you are encouraging both units to have a long-term vested community member," she said. "That would be the goal for me, but I don’t necessarily care if it’s the actual homeowner or just a long-term person living in either of the units.” 

Some of the other changes were not as well received. Commissioner John Kenworthy expressed worry that relaxing requirements on things like square footage, or how many apartments are allowed within a 300-foot radius could expose homeowners associations that have their own regulations to potential lawsuits.

“I just don’t want to turn every HOA upside down with somebody having the right to push this on a homeowners association," said Kenworthy. "I’m concerned about that.” 

City staff is scheduled to return to the commission with draft amendments to the code on Nov 10th. The commission will then hold a public hearing on the changes before forwarding a recommendation to the city council. Accessory apartments are expected to be discussed by the council on Dec 9th.

The city’s accessory apartment survey is open through November 4th and can be found here.