Summer Events and Affordable Housing Still Need Further Discussion After Park City Council Meeting
Thursday night’s city council meeting in Park City had two major topics: What this summer’s events calendar might look like and an update from the city’s housing department on the potential for future public-private development projects.
If there’s one thing everyone could agree on Thursday night, it’s that summer 2021 will not look like summer 2020.
With vaccinations steadily ramping up across the country, it really looks like at least some of the summer events Park City is known for, like the Fourth of July festivities, could return to the calendar. Just how many of those events will return and what they’ll actually look like is another question entirely.
Long story short, nobody knows what the state of the COVID-19 pandemic will be in three months when the first events of the summer are on the city’s tentative events schedule.
The concern right now is over how the city might attempt to limit the size, or at least attempt to spread out crowds at events like the Fourth of July, which routinely attract tens of thousands of visitors to town for the holiday.
Councilor Steve Joyce told KPCW on Friday that, at least right now, there are no easy and obvious answers to how to successfully pull off safe events this summer.
“There’s a lot of people who really are feeling the urge to get back to something like normal,” Joyce said. “I think if there was a way, you know, if you could kind of do a thing that says this year the Fourth of July is only gonna be for locals, so instead of having 40 or 50 thousand people, we’re gonna have five thousand. Ok, that would be nice, but I don’t know how to make that happen. Quite frankly, I think that’s impossible.”
City staff received direction from council to work on some scaled back event plans that still include current COVID-19 health and safety measures. They will also be encouraging event applicants to be creative and flexible with their plans given the still uncertain future of the pandemic.
Council also received an update from the housing department and discussed the viability of exploring future partnerships between the city and private developers as an effort to cut construction costs, which have steadily increased in recent years.
Part of the presentation from city staff included a breakdown of average incomes for the workforce in Park City. The data showed that the majority of Park City’s workforce actually would not have access to the city’s affordable housing offerings as they are currently priced.
Affordable housing at Woodside Park, the Central Park condos, and the Retreat is priced between 70% and 89% of the city’s average median income, which, according to the city, is roughly $80,000. According to the city’s findings, the average single worker only makes 61% of the AMI on average, 40% for a family of four.
Joyce called the findings a wake-up call.
“So I think it was a real wake-up call that there’s a lot of key positions [in Park City] that are at 40% or 50% or 60% AMI and most of what we’ve done in the past has been more in kind of the 70% to 80% range,” said Joyce. ”Some where we’ve done ‘attainable’ is even up to, like, 120%.”
Joyce added that in many other communities around the country, affordable housing offered at 80% AMI would reach a large portion of the workforce the city hopes to target. He said in Park City, however, the cost of construction and the simple fact that there are just not many jobs that offer salaries anywhere close to what the AMI level is makes the problem that much more difficult to solve.
One potential solution being explored by the city is partnering with private developers.
The city will be releasing a request for qualification for the Homestake site near Kearns Boulevard and will be looking for proposals from local developers for 75-100 units with an average price of 60% AMI. Additionally, the city is asking for no more than 20% of those units to be market rate.
Scott Loomis is the longtime director of the Mountainlands Community Housing Trust and told the council on Thursday that the request is a big ask, but he believes it can be done.
“It’s extremely difficult to do affordable housing, as most of you know,” he said. “To reach these kind of goals, it’s extremely difficult, but I think it’s doable.”
Thursday’s events and affordable housing agenda items were discussion items only and no votes were taken.