It’s usually not a good sign when senior federal officials visit Summit County on official business. Reflected shine can feel temporarily warm when our community is in the spotlight, but it’s usually the result of some untenable problem that we don’t deal with properly and that creates a nice photo op of worried faces.
Take the summer visit of U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg to tout the PROTECT (Promoting Resilient Operations for Transformative, Efficient, and Economical Transportation) Act. Buttigieg spent time ignoring the aftermath of last year’s Parleys Canyon fire, which threatened thousands of homes in Snyderville Basin, and discussing how infrastructure could protect residents. Yet another fire was started by a truck along I-80 two months later just a stone’s throw away – it was quickly brought under control by fire crews – showing there may still be infrastructure work to be done there.
So when Regional Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Administrator Dominique Jackson stopped by to address the region’s affordable housing shortage, I picked up the metaphorical fire extinguisher. It’s no secret that soaring prices exacerbated by pandemic-fueled migration, short-term rentals and joint ownership through limited liability companies have depleted the supply of reasonably priced housing and decimated the community workforce. The trend, which is mirrored at other regional resorts, is largely fueled by NIMBYISM according to Jackson, a sentiment shared by Park City Mayor Nann Worel.
In Park City, this often takes the form of “concerned citizens” organizing to derail affordable housing, often under the guise of wanting “responsible development,” which is usually a euphemism for protecting property values. Some opposition is already brewing in response to a recent proposed public-private workforce housing project on Homestake Road. The Centerville-based J. Fisher Company’s proposal would build 123 rental units on 1.86 acres of city-owned land, 80% of which would be allocated to workforce housing, with the remainder being priced housing. of the market.
If approved, the development will provide essential, long-term workforce housing that would be ideal for young families due to its centralized location and walking distance to schools, resorts, restaurants and grocery stores.
123 units isn’t enough to solve widespread labor shortages, but it’s a step in the right direction that is actually helping people live in the communities where they work. Obstacles remain, mainly due to parking and traffic problems. Neighboring businesses are concerned that overflow parking lots exceeding the 131-space capacity will drain into their lots, and area residents have already begun to balk at the idea of adding vehicles to the road.
Yet progress is being made on this front. New for this winter, Park City Mountain offers housing for 441 resort employees in the Canyons Village base area. It’s part of a major effort, in conjunction with increased wages and benefits, on behalf of the station to attract and retain employees and alleviate staffing issues plaguing businesses across the community. “Housing availability is critical to the sustainability and vitality of all resort communities, as well as to our business. Our goal with all of our payroll and housing investments is a fully staffed, engaged and supported team,” said Park City Mountain spokeswoman Sara Huey. “This prime location ensures convenient access to work, public transportation and all the wonderful experiences Park City has to offer. Having such a large number of resort employees will ensure constant availability of staff members to create an exceptional guest experience at the resort.
The Park City Mountain Investment is admirable, but not a single local small business has the resources to duplicate. This is why the City’s efforts to develop affordable housing solutions are so essential. Worel expressed the city’s goal of providing certain housing units with a limit of 60% of the area median income (AMI), but details remain scarce. Additionally, some business owners argue that the 60% MAI limit of $56,160 is too high and will still cost many local workers dearly.
Simply put, developing affordable housing in Park City is a Sisyphean task. Basically, it’s an inventory problem that we can’t nearly fix, especially with citizens who are constantly fighting against development. I appreciate HUD coming to town, but I can’t help but feel that once again we’ve just identified obstacles with no plan to remove them.
What is inclusive zoning and why are people talking about it?
Inclusive zoning refers to requirements for developers to build a certain amount of affordable housing – 20% of new units in the Snyderville Basin – to be reserved for families earning 80% or less of the AMI. A 2022 law, HB 303, granted the county the ability to maintain this level of inclusive zoning where it was already in place, but limits the power to enact these requirements in new areas, such as the east side where development future is likely. This is yet another hurdle facing affordable housing in Summit County.