Expect more aggressive housing measures
December 14, 2007
Henceforward, all new development in the Snyderville Basin must include deed-restricted affordable housing. The new requirement was approved Wednesday by the Summit County Commission.
Despite critics who have fought tooth-and-nail to limit the number of affordable units in their neighborhoods, the County Commission is poised to move forward next year with more aggressive legislation to create affordable housing in the pricey Park City real-estate market.
The rules enacted Wednesday require roughly 20 percent of new development and redevelopment contain housing for people earning around 80 percent of the area median annual income of about $82,000.
But the requirements only address future demand for affordable housing in the Basin, Summit County planner Kimber Gabryszak explained.
"You’re still not going to meet the pent-up need," Gabryszak said in a telephone interview Friday.
The new rules are "not intended to address any backlog," she added.
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Other ways to provide affordable housing in a resort town include so-called "overlay zones" and incentives to allow builders to construct denser neighborhoods in exchange for building affordable units, Gabryszak said.
But citizens who fear the incentives could bring with them traffic, crime and undesirable neighbors, asked the Summit County Commission to consider boosting the new mandatory requirement to 40 percent to eliminate talk about overlay zones.
"You will never meet the need because there is always going to be more need than is available," Basin resident Deb Scoggin said.
But officials insisted they must begin somewhere and Snyderville resident Steve Weinstein said not addressing the problem sooner caused a housing crisis.
Homes must be provided to seasonal workers who live in Park City in the winter, he said.
"It is obviously a serious problem that needs to be addressed," Weinstein said.
Meanwhile, those leveling much of the criticism in the contentious debate might not completely understand affordable housing.
"I don’t know if I would call it fear or confusion," Gabryszak said. "If there was one perfect code that we could slap in here and apply it, we would."
A median-priced house in western Summit County sells for nearly $1.3 million, according to December real-estate listings. Of the 218 homes listed for sale, only 18 were priced under $500,000 on Dec. 3.
Prices for 79 of the houses exceeded $2 million. Median priced condominiums and townhouses in Park City and Snyderville sell for around $465,000, according to current listings.
And for renters the scenario is just as dire. In 2005, the average hourly wage earned in western Summit County was less than $9. But to afford a two-bedroom home at fair market rate requires earning nearly $20 per hour to pay monthly rent of $1,018, according to the National Low-Income Housing Coalition.
To catch up with the demand, Gabryszak said recent housing needs assessments conducted in the Snyderville Basin showed about 600 new affordable units are necessary.
"That’s within the next five, six years," she added.
But the proposal for overlay zones irked neighbors because, they said, financial incentives would encourage developers to build affordable units in their West Side neighborhoods.
Summit County Commissioner Ken Woolstenhulme praised the requirements enacted Wednesday.
"It’s going to help," Woolstenhulme said. "It’s going to give us a start and it’s going to stop the bleeding so to speak."