Park City mayor: Do not destroy livability for the sake of ‘making it more affordable’
Statement delivered as City Hall continues aggressive housing efforts
Park City Mayor Andy Beerman on Tuesday suggested the community does not want to destroy livability in order to address affordability, a conspicuous statement as the municipal government he leads continues to press ahead with an ambitious housing program designed to create opportunities for those otherwise priced out of Park City.
The mayor made the comment toward the end of a City Hall-hosted online event and as he was addressing housing discussions at the Legislature. He outlined that homebuilders are defining what has been labeled a housing crisis in the state as well as defining the housing solutions. Beerman, though, also made a comment concentrated on Park City itself.
“We do have affordability issues here, but we have affordability issues because it’s a great place to live and we don’t want to destroy that in the sake of, you know, making it more affordable. And that is … not an easy thing to address,” Beerman said.
He also made a broader statement regarding housing affordability as he spoke about his upbringing in the Midwest.
“I come from an area that … went through great growth and sprawl. There was very little barriers to building there, both topographically and regulatory. And as a result you have endless sprawl, you have increased crime, you have hopeless traffic, you have schools that have been degraded. And, yeah, the housing’s affordable there, and it’s plentiful, but the quality of life has taken a real shot,” Beerman said.
The comments on Tuesday were made outside the setting of an official meeting of the Park City Council, but they touched on issues that various rosters of Park City leaders over the last 20-plus years have struggled to solve. There are broad concerns about affordability in Park City that have been exacerbated by real estate increases amid the continued spread of the novel coronavirus. Affordability is seen as a crucial element of City Hall’s social equity efforts.
City Hall for years has pursued an aggressive workforce or otherwise affordable housing program. The housing is designed to offer options for people who cannot afford places in Park City’s resort-driven real estate market, the most expensive in the state. Park City wants to create hundreds of units of restricted housing in coming years. Leaders consider the housing program as having wide-ranging community benefits like broadening socioeconomic diversity and reducing commuter traffic. The mayor and City Council are currently holding difficult discussions regarding a major housing project that is envisioned to be developed as part of an arts and culture district along Bonanza Drive and Kearns Boulevard.
The idea that Beerman sees plentiful, affordable housing, at least in the place of his upbringing, as impacting the quality of life is notable since similar arguments are often made in Park City when a project heavily weighted toward restricted housing is proposed. People in Park City who live nearby the land where workforce or otherwise affordable housing projects have been under consideration have sometimes expressed concerns over the years about issues related to quality of life, such as traffic, parking and the loss of open space.
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A member of the Park City Planning Commission for at least the second time in less than a year spoke publicly about a concept that would financially involve City Hall in a development proposal at Park City Mountain Resort. Planning Commissioner John Phillips did not address the concept in any depth during a lengthy meeting.