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PC Planning Commission Considers Affordable Housing Code Changes

The Park City Planning Commission will consider amendments to the Land management Code that would make it easier to build small affordable housing developments --by allowing developers to build less parking and preserve less open space on site, than under the existing rules.

The recommendations to the planning commission come from a city-hired consultant to analyze the planning code and find ways to make it easier for affordable housing to get built in a town where more than half of the homes already built are second homes and many of the others are so expensive that the workforce can’t afford to live in them.

City Planner Hannah Tyler says the  consultants suggested both immediate and long term recommendations. The planning commission on Wednesday will consider the more immediate proposed changes.   

“And that’s going to be allowing projects to go down to the zone required setbacks if they’re less than two acres, allowing affordable housing projects to have an open space reduction to 30%,” Tyler said. When I say reduction, I mean currently it’s higher than that and they have to ask for the reduction. So, what’ we’re doing is that we’re making it a standard that they only require 30% open space and of that open space, we want to see 15% of that to be useable. We want useable  open space to be available  and accessible to everyone in a project. The last one would be is we’re just  going to match the parking requirements of affordable housing development to that of all other projects in town. Currently affordable housing projects have to provide one parking space per bedroom and that ultimately becomes a lot more parking than what a normal person would have to be required, so we’re just trying to make an even playing field.”

The long term recommendations, which will need more public vetting, include height increases, and even more parking reductions.

“ We don’t find we’re prepared to go forward with a height increase or parking reduction right now because we want to have a much bigger community conversation about both of those,” Tyler said.

Currently an affordable housing development would be required to have 60% open space.  Going down to half of that – or 30% as is being proposed – she says is really only a 15% decrease because this change will only impact in-fill projects – projects with less than 2 acres. Currently, she says all master planned developments require only 45% open space, so she believes this will fit in with what is already built.

Planning director Bruce Erickson says  they’re still working on the numbers, but you wouldn’t see more building volume, unless a height increase is allowed.

The Planning Commission has made lots of exceptions for affordable housing developments, so why change the entire code, rather than looking at each proposal a case by case basis? Erickson says the council thinks the code restrictions are preventing developers from even considering a project.

“The city council wants to make the affordable housing process more accessible to the development community and with higher degrees of reliability,” Erickson said. “So, it doesn’t depend on my department or the planning omission  discretionary use. This becomes more reliable and less discretionary – and that’s what the council wants us to do.”

Erickson admits that if the changes are made, they will have to work on the parking situation, especially in the historic district.  The Park City Planning Commission meets Wednesday night starting at 5:30. This item is the first item on the regular agenda.

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