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Park City evaluating code changes to boost affordable housing

Francisco Kjolseth / The Salt Lake Tribune
Numerous mattresses cover the floor where 12 foreign students from Argentina who came to Park City to work on J-1 visas lived during winter 2022-23. Because of lack of housing, they lived in a one-bedroom apartment, paying $12,000 a month in rent. The group was eventually evicted due to violating occupancy limits.

Park City is considering changes to land use and development rules to increase the stock of affordable housing.

Park City hired a consultant last year to analyze the land management code to find potential barriers for creating affordable housing. The study also evaluated ways to reduce car dependency around town.

More than 50 people attended an open house Tuesday to learn about those findings, including planning commissioners, city staff, developers, and members of the public.

Consultant Jen Murillo told the group that the approval process with the city’s planning commission needs to be more black-and-white. That means revising standards outlined in the code.

“So they don’t require interpretation or discretion on the reviewer to be able to determine whether or not they’ve been met,” Murillo said. “Modifying standards specifically for open space, building height and parking in a way that incentivizes and encourages affordable housing. Requiring strategies for new development that reduces the demand for required parking.”

The planning commission is charged with ensuring proposed developments meet the standard set out in the city’s code.

The consultant’s policy recommendations include reducing open space requirements for housing close to public transit, and removing the minimum lot size requirement for detached accessory apartments.

Resident Luci Susnowski attended the open house Tuesday and said she’s supportive of the city doing whatever it can to increase affordable living options.

“We need space for the lifties and the people who work the resorts, and that’s a necessity there, but at the same time, we need families back in town,” Susnowski said. “We’re going to become a vacant shell in the offseason if we don’t have people living in town.”

She said the lack of available housing directly correlates to traffic on Park City’s roads.

“If you live in Coalville, or Heber, or Wanship, or Kamas or whatever, you’ve got to drive to work to get here. And that’s where we’re pushing everybody out. The farther out we push them, the worse it’s going to get.”

The proposed changes to the land management code are subject to planning commission and city council approval.

More information can be found here.