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Hailey P&Z crafts new housing ordinance

Council will review new accessory dwelling unit regulations Nov. 30

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Accessory dwelling units are allowed in Hailey’s general residential zone, pictured in blue, but are currently prohibited in its limited residential zones, shown in two shades of purple. A new ordinance could change that. See full-size image at

The Hailey Planning and Zoning Commission solidified a new housing ordinance on Monday 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 for review on Nov. 30.

Since 2003, accessory dwelling units have been permitted in the Old Hailey area between River and Fifth streets and the General Residential district, which includes south Woodside and several smaller subdivisions. But ADUs are currently not allowed in the city’s two Limited Residential zoning districts, which account for 50 percent of Hailey’s residential land and comprise major subdivisions such as Northridge, Quigley, Foxmoor, Deerfield and Woodside subdivision north of Baldy View Drive.

Under city code, ADUs are defined as structures on the same lot or premises of a primary residence with stand-alone bathroom and kitchen facilities—like an apartment built above a garage, for example.

All P&Z commissioners lauded the ordinance on Monday for its potential to bring much-needed affordable housing opportunities to Hailey and increase property value.

“ADUs are a benefit to not just Hailey but this valley in general, as far as providing lower-cost workforce housing,” Commissioner Dan Smith said. “Opening up ADUs for folks in [Limited Residential zones] will bring folks closer together and create a more vibrant community. This will be a positive for the city of Hailey.”

While Idaho code prohibits cities from banning short-term rentals, the city can “lightly regulate” ADUs to preserve neighborhood character and reduce crowding, Community Development Director Lisa Horowitz said.

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 based on lot size. (Lots around 7,000 square feet could have a maximum ADU floor area of 900 square feet, for example, and lots over 8,000 square feet could have a maximum ADU floor area of 1,000 square feet.)

The ordinance also establishes a two-bedroom maximum for ADUs and requires one on-site parking space for every bedroom to mitigate any adverse impacts on neighboring properties.

Horowitz noted that the city has approved around five ADUs per year, mostly one-bedroom units for family use. As of Monday, she said there were 29 short-term rentals in Hailey city limits out of 3,400 residential units.

“We’re not yet seeing in Hailey the kind of rush on the short-term rentals as maybe some other resort communities are experiencing,” she said. “In most circumstances, ADUs have [been built] for aging parents or kids coming back from college.”

Jennifer Murphy, a Hailey resident living in one of the city’s Limited Residential zones, said during a public-comment session on Monday that her family hoped to build an ADU for her mother.

“Like many others, our lives have been changed by the pandemic. My mother’s health is compromised and she needs to be closer to us,” Murphy said. “We would just love to be able to have an ADU—it would keep my mother independent, and keep us here in Hailey.”

Horowitz said that if the ordinance passes, the new ADU review process for residents in the Limited Residential and General Residential zones would only involve one member of the P&Z and select city staff. It would also be faster and less expensive than standard design review, she said.

“The [review team] would be able to bump that accessory dwelling unit up to the P&Z for a hearing if there was neighborhood input that merited further review,” she said.

P&Z Chairwoman Janet Fugate added that neighbors would have a 15-day comment period to provide feedback on the proposed unit.

“Neighbors will be aware of what’s happening and have the opportunity to appeal the [P&Z] decision. That makes me feel good about what we’re what we’re doing here,” she said.

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