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  • Writer's pictureMichelle

Preserving Neighborhoods with Zoning

Updated: Jan 21, 2020

Provo City's primary responsibility is to provide services to existing and new residents. In that delivery, however, it is equally important to maintain a high quality of life, preserve natural amenities and build a community, not just a city.

Zoning is an important part of planning, as it assures the uses on privately owned land protect the health, safety, and general welfare of the public. It acts as a protection to all land owners from the impacts of incompatible land uses on adjacent properties.

The Zoning Division of Provo City handles zoning questions, such as types of uses appropriate for a property, code enforcement issues and rental dwelling licensing. Living in a community requires that we all be considerate of our neighbors. Laws are provided to maintain safety, property values and enable us to live together.

If you have any questions about acceptable uses for your property, contact the Community and Neighborhood Services Department at 801-852-6420 or simply dial 311.

Common Zoning Questions:

How tall can my grass be?

Our ordinances do not specify how tall grass can be; however, Section 15.20.070, Provo City Code states “All landscaping materials, fences and walls, and irrigation systems shall be maintained in good condition so as to present a healthy, neat and orderly appearance, and shall be replaced when necessary.”

Am I allowed to park on my lawn?

No, vehicles are required to be parked on a paved (asphaltic cement or concrete) surface with a paved access to a public street.

What are the rules concerning xeriscaping?

Provo City Code Section 15.20.060 contains the recommended design standards which include references to utilizing “water-wise” and drought-tolerant landscaping materials. Xeriscaping includes not only mulch materials such as wood bark and rock, but drought-tolerant plants as well. West Jordan’s Conservation Garden Park and Orem’s Central Utah Gardens are two great places to get information, take classes and see water-wise landscaping in action.

Are tiny homes allowed in Provo?

No, Provo City has a minimum floor area requirement for one family detached dwellings dependent upon the zone and whether the home is a single level or a multiple level dwelling. Please see Provo City Code Section 14.34.310, Table 1.

Am I allowed to keep chickens?

Yes, chickens can be kept at single-family residential properties however roosters cannot. The number of chickens allowed to be kept at a property will vary by lot size. Keeping chickens falls under the purview of animal control, for additional information regarding the requirements to keep chickens see Provo City Code 8.02.190 or contact animal control at 801-852-6241.

Am I allowed to keep bees?

Yes, two species of bees, honeybees or mason bees, are allowed to be kept. Beekeeping falls under the purview of animal control, for additional information regarding beekeeping regulations see Provo City Code 8.03 or contact animal control at 801-852-6241.

How long can my trash cans be left out on the street?

Trash cans are allowed be left out on the street 24 hours before pick up and 24 hours after.

How long can a car be parked on the street?

Off-street parking enforcement is handled by the city’s parking enforcement team. If the vehicle is inoperable or hasn’t been moved within seventy-two (72) hours’ it can be enforced on.

How much of my yard can I pave?

The amount of paving allowed on a property varies by zone. For a property in a single family residential zone one (1) interior side yard can be completely paved. However, no more than fifty percent (50%) of the front yard, including detached parking structures can be paved and no more than forty percent (40%) of the rear yard can be paved for parking.

Can I use my residential property as a short-term rental?

No. Short-term rentals such as vacation rentals, are not allowed in any residential or agricultural zone in the city.

If I add a second kitchen to my property can I rent it out to more people?

No. In order to prevent illegal conversions of a one-family dwelling into a two-family dwelling, the allowed occupancy at a property with a second kitchen is restricted to one individual living alone or family only; no unrelated individuals are allowed to live at the property.

I bought a property and the previous owner already established an accessory apartment. Is the accessory apartment still valid?

Accessory apartment permits do not transfer with the ownership of the property. As the new owner you will need to come in and apply to have the apartment recognized in your name. If the apartment was recently established the process is simple, but if it has been several years, a new health and safety inspection of the property will be required.

My property has an accessory apartment. If I move out can I rent out both units?

No, a property owner can only rent out the accessory apartment if he or she lives at the property. If the property owner moves the use of the accessory apartment is no longer considered legal. The property can be rented as a single-family dwelling with a second kitchen but not as two separate units.

Where can I park my RV on my property?

RVs, trailers, boats, and boat trailers can be parked anywhere on the lot, excluding the clear vision area of a lot or the front yard of the property for one day if it belongs to the property owner, or more than seven days if it belongs to a guest.

Can I put a fence around my front yard?

Yes, but if the fence is going to be higher than 3 feet it must be 50% open.

How tall can the fence in my rear yard be?

A fence 6 feet or under does not require a building permit. If you want to build a taller fence, a building permit will need to be obtained.

How many people can live in a house?

Provo’s Occupancy Limit has been in place for more than 30 years. Most properties are limited to one family, as defined in Provo City Code 14.06 “Family”, or 3 singles. There are zones and properties that can have more people; however those zones and properties are specifically for student housing. There are also properties that may have nonconforming, or “grandfathered”, rights to have a greater number of people; these are determined on an individual basis and are not in any one particular part of the city

I let my family member live in a home I own rent free. Do I need a rental dwelling license?

Yes, our ordinances state that if a home is let, loaned, rented or able to be let, loaned or rented and the owner of record does not reside in the home, then a Rental Dwelling License is required.

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Matt Todd
Matt Todd
Feb 27, 2021

It's interesting that the Fair Housing Act forbids discrimination of family size by landlords. It says landlords may not "place an unreasonable restriction on the total number of persons who may reside in a dwelling" (see and sets the "reasonable" expectation at 2 persons per bedroom.

Meanwhile, Provo's (and other cities for that matter) ordinances against unrelated occupants are not based on any rational metric like home size, bedroom count, utility capacity, or off-street parking. It is a blanket ban on anything above 3, regardless of home fit. A New York Times article compared the absolute insanity of banning 5 unrelated widows from living together to share rent in New Jersey while simultaneously allowing 10 cousins to rent the…

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