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Park City Code Changes Intend To Aid In Development Of Affordable Housing

Lynn Ware Peek

The Park City Council recently approved amendments to the city’s land management code. 

Parking, open space and setback requirements—an analysis from land management consultant Cascadia Partners showed those code items to be some of the most prohibitive when building affordable housing in Park City. To reach the city’s housing goal of bringing 800 affordable or attainable units online within city limits by 2026, the city council approved reducing the setback requirement from 25 feet to the underlying zone setback for projects less than two acres; reducing the open space requirement from 30% to 20% for a project; and making parking requirements more flexible.

Only Park City Councilmember Nann Worel voted against the amendments. She took issue with parking, saying it was exclusionary to decrease availability when many people rely on a car for work. Worel also worried about the impact parking reductions might have on neighborhoods, citing residents in the Bonanza Park area utilizing street parking because there’s not enough available near their homes.

Councilmember Steve Joyce explained the reasoning behind the amendment.

“You want to reduce the parking so that you can build more units, so that it becomes more affordable for people to live there,” Joyce said.

Previously, the land management code required one parking space per bedroom in a master planned affordable housing development. Now, the language is a little more flexible. The planning commission can decide to increase or decrease the required parking for an affordable development based on different factors, such as a parking mitigation plan or proximity to transit.

Joyce says parking takes up too much space in a development, it costs a lot to build, and that cost is passed onto the homebuyer.

“Our code requirements, our land management code, basically builds the parking requirements assuming everybody’s got cars," Joyce said. "You've got a two bedroom house, you’ve got two car spots—required, you have to build those. If you buy into the affordable unit, you’re basically having to pay for those, and what we’re trying to do is just make it a little more flexible, so it works for people who choose not to have a car.”

Although many people are car-dependent, or simply prefer to drive, Joyce says the code amendment speaks to the Park City community’s desire for bold change, which has been expressed through the Park City Vision 2020 process.

“When we look at bold action, one of the biggest problems in town for locals is traffic," Joyce said. "So, you can’t just keep kind of doing what you’ve been doing and hope to god it somehow gets better. You’re going to have to take some creative action, and if we just keep doing what we’re doing, people aren’t going to take the bus.”

The city council will later revisit more parking requirement revisions, as well as code amendments related to height exceptions, to further aid in the development of affordable housing.

Emily Means hadn’t intended to be a journalist, but after two years of studying chemistry at the University of Utah, she found her fit in the school’s communication program. Diving headfirst into student media opportunities, Means worked as a host, producer and programming director for K-UTE Radio as well as a news writer and copy editor at The Daily Utah Chronicle.
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