The Hailey City Council on Monday advanced a new housing ordinance that would permit accessory dwelling units, or ADUs, also known as “mother-in-law apartments,” in the city’s two Limited Residential zoning districts.
The ordinance will go before the City Council again in two weeks for a second reading on Jan. 25.
Since 2003, accessory dwelling units have been permitted between River and Fifth streets and in the General Residential district, which includes south Woodside and several smaller subdivisions. But the units are currently not allowed in the city’s two Limited Residential zoning districts, which account for about half of Hailey’s residential neighborhoods—including Northridge, Quigley, Foxmoor and Deerfield.
Though Idaho code prohibits cities from banning short-term rentals, the city is allowed to “lightly regulate” ADUs to preserve neighborhood character and reduce crowding.
One main limitation specified by the ordinance is that only one of two units on a property can be a short-term rental, and that the other unit needs to be either owner-occupied or a long-term rental.
ADUs must also be “subordinate” in size to the main residence per the ordinance, with a maximum square footage of 1,000 feet.
The ordinance also establishes a two-bedroom maximum for ADUs, requires one on-site parking spot per ADU, unless property owners have excess parking space, and specifies that ADUs are built to the code of whichever zone the primary dwelling sits on. Those specifics include setback and privacy requirements, Community Development Director Lisa Horowitz said.
Previous language in the ordinance set a 28-foot height limit for accessory dwelling units, but councilmembers opted on Monday to delete that requirement.
The original 28-foot cap was intended to ensure that ADUs were under the General Residential district’s 35-foot height limit and Limited Residential zones’ 30-foot limit, Horowitz said.
Councilman Sam Linnet said the 28-foot restriction could have the “unintended consequence” of preventing a future homeowner from building an ADU within their main residence.
“I think a separate height limit [for ADUs] shouldn’t be included. The purpose of the ordinance is to make sure [ADUs] are subordinate to the main structure, but I just don’t think that the building height restriction necessarily accomplishes that,” he said. “Restricting the maximum size to [1,000 feet] is sufficient.”
Linnet added that a two-foot height difference was purely aesthetic and “not noticeable.”
Council President Kaz Thea agreed.
“That’s silly, frankly,” she said.
Horowitz noted that the city had not received any public comments on the ordinance. To submit a comment, email City Clerk Mary Cone at firstname.lastname@example.org.