The Salt Lake City Council says it’s willing to pay for 50 new police officer positions—nearly twice what Chief Mike Brown asked for earlier this month.
Brown said the police department was already understaffed and needs more officers to deal with the city’s homelessness problem. Some Salt Lake City residents have complained of increased crime in their neighborhoods as homeless people move away from downtown.
Councilman Derek Kitchen said Tuesday evening that he recognized the concerns of residents, but he also pointed out the high cost.
“The feeling of insecurity is very real,” Kitchen said. “I think this is an important step for us to take. But I just want to make sure that we acknowledge that this is a serious budgetary issue that we will need to address in the near future.”
Fifty new hires could cost about $5 million in the first year — and $4.5 million in ongoing funding — and the city would likely need to raise taxes to pay for it. The city council will likely vote on that budget amendment before the end of the year.
On Tuesday, the city council also finalized plans to loosen city rules regarding mother-in-law apartments, or accessory dwelling units (ADUs).
On Tuesday night, the city council gave preliminary approval to an ordinance that would remove limits on the number of new ADUs, but impose boundaries that exclude them from being built in some east-side neighborhoods. It would also require the council to revisit the issue again in 3-4 years.
Salt Lake City outlawed ADUs in the ’90s. In 2013, the city allowed them within a half-mile of fixed transit stops, but only a handful were built.
The council will likely vote on a final version at its meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 5.
During previous public comment meetings, residents from wealthier neighborhoods in the Avenues and East Bench argued against expanding ADUs, worried that condensed housing would negatively impact their communities. Those neighborhoods were removed from the version the council agreed to in a straw poll Tuesday evening.