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Park City Councilors Debate Scope of Housing as a Community Priority

Park City Municipal

Park City Councilors discussed the goals and scope of the city’s affordable housing initiatives at last week’s two-day council retreat.


On day two of last week’s council retreat, a review of the city’s social equity and affordability initiatives was part of the day’s agenda.


Councilor Becca Gerber argued strongly that given affordable housing’s identification as a critical community priority, more focus should be on concrete steps towards attaining the city’s ambitious goal of adding 300 more units of affordable housing in the city over the coming years.


“We can say we’re looking at housing solutions, that’s great, that doesn’t mean anything to me,” Gerber said. “More housing? That doesn’t mean anything to me. You add another unit? That’s more housing. We have a very lofty goal. It is gonna be hard. It is gonna take a lot of effort and energy and money and time and I just hope that we are doing all that we can to advocate to making it towards that goal. Don’t feel like you need to soften it. Personally, we set that goal. Hold us accountable. Push us. Push us back and we’ll push you, and so this is me pushing back.” 


The council also discussed housing at length in February and March and began the process of identifying who the housing should be for and what income levels should be targeted for assistance.


That discussion brought to light the discrepancies between the area's average median income, which is roughly $80,000, and how much the workforce in Park City actually makes, which in many cases is less than half that amount.


Councilor Max Doilney largely saw eye-to-eye with Gerber last week, but also argued that affordable housing is an element of each of the pillars of social equity & affordability, environmental leadership, authentic local culture, and transportation innovation identified in the Vision 2020 process.


“I agree wholeheartedly with almost everything you have to say, with the exception of one thing,” he said. ”I think housing is the umbrella over all of these pillars because it’s encapsulated in each one, right? If you’re building $5 million homes, you’re not leading environmentally by any stretch of the imagination. If you’re putting people in dense locations, they’re driving less, they’re using public transportation more. You’re talking about social equity. Every single one of these pillars has housing as an umbrella and gets addressed within each pillar.”


The council will eventually be forming task forces for each of these priorities and Councilor Steve Joyce joined Gerber in saying that given its importance, affordable housing would do well to have it’s own task force instead of being lumped into a greater discussion on social equity.


“I’m quite honestly not comfortable that social equity and affordable housing are the same task force,” said Joyce. “The people you would bring in are different, the goals are gonna be different, all the mechanics are gonna be different. I don’t care if we glob them back together at the end, but at some level, the quick thing I got out of it is yeah, that’s not one task force, that’s two.”


With future housing projects at several city sites in the works, including the arts and culture district and Homestake area, city council will be getting a review of city-owned land at this Thursday’s council meeting. The meeting is scheduled to begin at 3:15pm.

Sean Higgins covers all things Park City and is the Saturday Weekend Edition host at KPCW. Sean spent the first five years of his journalism career covering World Cup skiing for Ski Racing Media here in Utah and served as Senior Editor until January 2020. As Senior Editor, he managed the day-to-day news section of skiracing.com, as well as produced and hosted Ski Racing’s weekly podcast. During his tenure with Ski Racing Media, he was also a field reporter for NBC Sports, covering events in Europe.
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