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Park City Council indicates housing deed restriction program could launch in early 2022

Lynn Ware Peek
The program would pay homeowners between 15 and 20% of their property's value in exchange for a permanent deed restriction.

The Park City Council says a pilot period for a deed restriction program aimed at incentivizing more full-time residents could launch early next year.

The short-term rental market has exploded in Park City in recent years, providing a lucrative income stream for many in the community with spare bedrooms or second homes.

That boom has come at a cost, though. Many of the city’s properties that were once offered as rentals for people in the local workforce have disappeared, forcing many to commute into work from outside the area or take different jobs elsewhere.

The “Live Park City Lite Deed Restriction Program” would pay homeowners somewhere between 15-20% of their property’s value in exchange for placing a permanent deed restriction on the property that would prevent it from ever being used as a short-term rental, even if ownership changes hands.

The council parsed through the details of the program at its meeting on Thursday.

The pilot program would have a budget of $1 million from the city’s affordable housing fund, and city staff says it hopes to fund about 10 properties with that money. The program is targeting properties priced around $750,000 or less. More funding and expanding the project depends on the success of the trial period.

One question raised by the council was who the program is supposed to be helping. Councilor Steve Joyce asked if the proposal excluded an important segment of the community: seniors. He told KPCW striking a balance between local workers and the senior community is a priority.

“What we saw last night was a proposal that said you have to work in Summit County or in the school district, kind of like our affordable housing," he said. "That really kind of tightens down the restrictions of who could use it. Easiest example would be if you have a retired senior here, and they’re willing to put a deed restriction on their house in exchange for some money, that was fine by us, but they wouldn’t meet the criteria of working or recently working in Summit County. We just kind of had to clarify what we were trying to do with the program.”

Councilor Becca Gerber agreed with Joyce and said the first people who could probably take advantage of the program are local retirees looking to downsize.

“I don’t necessarily think that right off the bat, we’re going to have people knocking down the doors to use these right away, just with the base costs of our homes right now," said Gerber. "I think a really good market for this sort of project is probably going to be retirees of all sorts who have been in this community for a long time and maybe are good community partners.”  

Joyce told KPCW the council looks to be on the right track and anticipates the program to get off the ground early next year.

“Yeah, I think so," Joyce said. "I think there’s a lot of support from council and it’s just a matter of making sure that we get the right thing in place. As soon as you start talking about putting deed restrictions on property, that’s a pretty permanent thing to do, and you want to make sure you get it right.”

Final approval of the pilot program will return to the council later this year.

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.