Scary Changes | Urban Living
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Scary Changes

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To many, change is scary. And big changes are coming to Salt Lake neighborhoods since the city council voted to loosen zoning laws and ease ordinances.

After years of debate, grumblings and public input, citizens will find that boarding houses are a thing again, the west side Tiny Home Village has been approved, builders will not be required to carve out as much parking for their projects as in the past and the Ballpark area will be getting zoning changes.

Ballpark has been a mess of development without long-range planning, which has caused a pattern of more cars than foot traffic, big box stores (Walmart, Lowe's) and large apartment buildings taking up land. But the recent changes will create a "Ballpark Station Area Transit Station Area zone," which the city is calling the "Heart of the Neighborhood."

It will reportedly reconfigure the Ballpark Trax station to improve access from the west and make it easier to navigate for pedestrians on 1300 South, with new and improved crossings and added green space around Smith's Ballpark stadium. Mind you, no one is sure the Salt Lake Bees will still be there in a few years, but for now, it's a landmark to build around and improve the neighborhood experience.

There are 45 pages of parking ordinances created in 2019 that are being updated to include new minimums and maximums for the parking spaces required of new construction, electric vehicle parking, more accessible parking (the capital city is not known for an abundance of handicapped/accessible parking), bike parking, off-street loading areas and drive-thrus.

Shared housing was big in the 1800s and 1900s as an affordable housing alternative, and boarding houses will now be allowed in all Transit Station Areas [TSA], in downtown, in the Sugarhouse Central Business District and in several other zones, with a minimum bedroom size of 100-square-feet per person, 24-hour on-site management and security cameras, except in bathrooms.

Another item that spooks homeowners—changes to RMF-30 zoning, which is traditionally a lower-density, multi-family residential district. This would eliminate the minimum width of a lot (currently the rule is 80-feet wide) for multi-family dwellings. This potentially allows for more accessory dwelling units [ADUs] and tiny homes to be added to current properties that formerly didn't have a wide enough lot to put in an addition.

RMF zoning exists mainly on the city's east side, and this change would allow for more density—something NIMBYs are opposed to as a change in their 'hood. The downside is that a home could be torn down and replaced with multi-units, meaning potentially more traffic and parking problems. A huge part of the discussion for changes to this zoning is a "housing loss mitigation"—people don't want homes torn down and replaced with multi-units. This adds to loss of place and gentrification as we see neighborhoods decimated by aggressive developers throughout the city.

Time to take off your masks and rip off the bloody bandages, Salt Lake. Life here and around the state is changing fast, and if you don't pay attention, you'll end up falling into an open grave!