Editorial | ParkRecord.com


Affordable housing deserves more than lip service

In a pure capitalist system, where demand determines value, the more scarce a resource is, the greater its value, right?

If that is true, the most valuable commodity in Park City today isn’t real estate, it is employees.

You would surmise, then, that local politicians and citizens would be doing everything in their power to enlarge the local workforce.

Unfortunately, most are not.

While affordable housing gets a lot of lip service from Park City and Summit County officials, both have been slow to demand that developers and businessmen include affordable housing within their projects.

Residents have been equally recalcitrant about welcoming proposed affordable housing projects into their neighborhoods, even as they complain about trying to find employees for their businesses and bemoan the increase in traffic due, in part, to more and more out-of-town workers.

Granted, the mad dash to fill resort and restaurant ranks in time for the busy holiday season takes place every November and December in Park City, but every year the stakes get higher – there are more jobs, fewer local applicants and fewer places for those who do apply to live close to where they work.

And relying on an out-of-town workforce puts Park City businesses in a vulnerable position. While everyone is hoping for lots of snowstorms, one good whopper could mean that liftees, cooks and servers might still be on the road when their shifts start.

After putting the idea on the back burner for several years, Park City is finally considering plans for a 22- to 25-unit affordable housing project on city-owned property near the new post office on S.R. 224. But nearby residents have already complained. We hope those citizens will take a hard look at their motives for objecting to affordable properties in an area that already serves multiple commercial and residential uses and that the City Council will stand up to those complaints and go forward with the much-needed plan.

Affordable housing has also been on the Summit County Commission’s agenda, with even less success. During a Snyderville Basin Planning Commission meeting this week, critics took aim at a proposal to adopt new legislation that would require some moderately priced housing in new developments. Basin and county officials have been grappling with affordable housing issues for the last decade without making much progress, thanks to pressure from developers who prefer to build only high-end properties.

One bright spot, though, in today’s paper is a planned open house for a new affordable housing project at Newpark. There, a developer took the initiative of building the units and he is anticipating demand to outpace supply by about five to one.

With the current subprime mortgage fiasco and local employers desperate for manpower, maybe the market will finally tip in favor of modest apartments for seasonal workers and starter homes for the people who make our community livable.

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