Park City foundation wants workforce housing NIMBY reactions confronted |

Park City foundation wants workforce housing NIMBY reactions confronted

City Hall developed a workforce or otherwise restricted housing project on Park Avenue, known as The Retreat at the Park and shown in February of 2018, as part of the municipal government’s aggressive housing program.
Park Record file photo

A Park City not-for-profit organization working with City Hall as leaders continue to press the ideal of social equity has drafted a plan that, in part, calls for the organized support of the municipal government’s housing efforts to counter any opposition.

The Park City Community Foundation discussed housing in a broader report regarding City Hall’s social equity efforts that was drafted in anticipation of a Park City Council meeting scheduled on Thursday. The section about housing is especially intriguing at a time when City Hall is pursuing an aggressive housing program that has drawn concerns from individual neighborhoods even as there appears to be community support for the overarching ideals underpinning the housing program.

The foundation report, in draft form and described as a social equity strategic plan, outlines goals to back City Hall’s housing efforts and supports municipal policies, regulations and ordinances “that are more friendly toward affordable housing development.” Advocacy is seen as a strategy, the report outlines, indicating work on behalf of the housing program is a means to offer balance when there is opposition.

“Organized advocacy is an effective way to educate the community on the benefits and needs of affordable housing, build support for changes to existing policies and procedures, and provide public support to public officials faced with opposition, such as not-in-my-back-yard (NIMBY) reactions,” the report says.

The report urges support for elected officials, government staffers and the developers of workforce or otherwise restricted affordable housing “by attending public hearings and meetings, writing letters of support, and providing public comments.” It also calls for preparing a “marketing/information/outreach campaign to inform the general public, businesses, elected officials, and others about affordable housing needs, benefits, and opportunities.” The report describes “tactics” like tours of housing projects, videos and advertisements.

The report, meanwhile, argues for changes designed to “expedite the process” of development of housing with the goal of “increased pace of creating additional affordable housing units.” Possibilities outlined in the report include considering changes to City Hall’s development rules to expedite the processing of projects and encouraging “the creation of funding sources to assist in affordable housing development. The report also touched on supporting efforts for units that are available as long-term rentals.

The Park City Community Foundation also urges the establishment of an information center for housing. It would include a database for people considering purchasing a workforce or otherwise restricted unit.

The report’s statements regarding supporting officials against neighborhood opposition are significant, and the use of the term “NIMBY” in a document like the draft strategic plan illustrates the stark nature of the concern.

City Hall and others organizations that have pursued workforce or otherwise affordable housing have for years encountered neighborhood resistance. In many cases, the opponents claim to be supporters of the overarching ideals of the housing program but oppose an individual project based on issues like the design, the number of units and the anticipated traffic increases. Neighborhood opposition sometimes extends the approval process through maneuvers such as appeals.

The Park City Community Foundation issued the report amid the ongoing City Hall housing efforts, including projects in Old Town. One of the municipal developments, the second phase of Woodside Park, has drawn opposition and was challenged. The proposal calls for 58 units — a combination of townhouses and condominiums — stretching across the 1300 blocks of Empire Avenue, Woodside Avenue and Norfolk Avenue. There have also been questions about the prospects of City Hall pursuing a housing project on Marsac Avenue, close to Old Town streets.

The municipal housing program is designed to offer opportunities for people otherwise priced out of Park City’s resort-driven real estate market, the most expensive in the state. Leaders have long argued that the housing reduces commuter traffic and ensures socioeconomic diversity.

The City Council meeting is scheduled to start at 3:35 p.m. at the Marsac Building. A hearing is not scheduled, but Mayor Andy Beerman oftentimes offers a chance for public input nonetheless.

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