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Park City Council says deed-restricted housing program needs more discussion

Lynn Ware Peek
A program aimed at increasing long-term residents in Park City is currently being considered by the city council.

A new housing program aimed at reducing the number of nightly rentals in Park City might not get off the ground as quickly as some are hoping.

The proliferation of nightly rentals in Park City over the past several years has created a unique situation. On one hand, homeowners can create a lucrative stream of cash by renting out spare rooms to people visiting for a few days. On the other hand, many of those same units used to be long-term rentals housing the city’s workforce.

Pioneered in the Colorado resort towns of Vail and Breckenridge, deed restrictions have had success elsewhere, and Park City began working on its own version of such a program last summer. In a nutshell, the program is aimed at increasing long-term residents in Park City. To do that, the city would pay homeowners a percentage of their property’s value in exchange for placing permanent deed restrictions on their homes, preventing them from ever becoming nightly rentals.

The last Park City Council set aside $1 million for a pilot program last November, and said it could be ready to go as early as this spring. But the newly elected councilors say they want to get up to speed before that happens.

At last week’s city council meeting, councilors heard from residents with questions about what the program would do for the community, and how it would actually drive more long-term rental units in the city.

John Greenfield is a Park City Heights resident and said the program isn’t necessarily what people think it is.

“I’m disappointed today to really come under the understanding that this isn’t a program about providing affordable housing, this isn’t a program about providing workforce housing either, even though it's sort of talked about within those measures," he said. "This is program about revitalizing neighborhoods, and I think everybody needs to be really clear on that. This is a program for housing people with resources already.”

According to city staff, approximately 1,800 units in Park City could qualify for this program.

Final approval could have come as early as March 3rd, with the program becoming operational by April 1st. But the council indicated it would not be ready for a final decision that soon, saying it wanted to hold another work session before making a final decision.

Councilor Tana Toly said she wants more information on how the program has succeeded in Colorado, and how Park City might be able to have similar success.

“Where I landed was just a few additional questions," said Toly. "We want to hear from Vail or Breckenridge, one of their representatives, on how it’s worked there. It’s been extremely successful in Vail. Just seeing how it will work here. I am all for us trying to find solutions to housing in properties that already exist, because it’s something we can do now versus building.”

Councilor Max Doilney, on the other hand, was joined by Councilor Becca Gerber in wanting to get the program off the ground sooner. Doilney and Gerber are the two remaining councilors from when the program was first discussed. Doilney cautioned his colleagues against seeing this program as a catch-all solution to the city’s housing shortage.

“I know there have been a lot of things said," Doilney said. "Seniors, affordable housing, workforce housing. The idea behind all of these programs is we gotta throw everything out there, because we have a ton of problems to solve and what this does is simply take a potential unit that could be used as a nightly unit into not a nightly unit. That’s the fundamental goal, and it does that. This isn’t a panacea, this is a piece. This is one of the tools in the toolbox and I’m not sure coming back and discussing this over and over and over is gonna do much for us.” 

The council is expected to hold another work session on the deed-restricted housing program on March 3rd.

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.