Oakley City Planners Discuss Their Revised Code, Affordable Housing

Feb 22, 2021

Credit Courtesy Oakley City Website

A recent public hearing hosted by the Oakley City Planning Commission on their revised development code drew just a couple of comments.    During the session, city officials talked about their ideas for affordable housing—aimed at serving the South Summit area.

The Oakley Planning Commission formulated the code revisions during a six-month moratorium on new development.

The proposed section on affordable housing would require that new residential development provide 20 percent of its units as affordable; and that new commercial projects provide affordable for 20 percent of its employee demand.

Those requirements would not apply to accessory dwellings; one single-family residence on a lot of record; or expansions of existing commercial, within certain limits.

Provisions also mandate that the affordable units would be prioritized for Oakley residents; and after them, residents of the South Summit area.

The code also says that if a developer doesn’t build affordable on site, they could build them in another location.  Other options are--they could pay a fee in lieu; buy existing units and donate them to the city as deed-restricted affordable space; donate land; or transfer development rights to an existing project.

During the February 17th public hearing, Oakley Planning Commissioner Doug Evans said they shouldn’t put affordable requirements on small projects.    He said he discussed the topic with Oakley Council Member Tom Smart.       

“Tom and I have talked that we may want to look at, rather than exacting an affordable-housing component out of every subdivision, come up with what is the size of subdivision where we begin to do that.  I’m not sure it’s worth taking a three-lot minor subdivision and saying, you’ve got to put in so much affordable housing.  But I don’t know if the number’s 10, or whatever.   We need to think about it.   And then, I’m not sure how much Oakley wants to be in the business of actually—if the developer doesn’t have a way to do it—of being the developers ourselves.  Maybe we need to look at projects that are viable where affordable housing can be implemented as a component of the project.”

In the public comment, Justin Harding agreed they shouldn’t burden smaller projects, though he said that wouldn’t apply to a larger development he’s pursuing right now with the city.

Tom Smart said that providing affordable is a challenge.        

“And that’s incredibly hard to do with the price of  land.  But as a Council, and with the ability to use the Village Center and things like that, we should be able to make the needs of the people who live and work around the valley and families in the valley.  I don’t think that any of us have a view that we should be affordable housing for Park City or other places.”

He noted they have two factors in their favor.        

“The two biggest hammers that we have in affordable housing is zoning—and by having a Village Center where you can actually have some denser zoning and stuff like that—is huge.  And the second one is the accessory house dwelling, which of course you probably know is a big issue in the state right now.   They might mandate us all to have it.”

Doug Evans added they also got two e-mails about the proposed code.   One supported private property rights.   The second talked about the value of their riparian areas, centered on the Weber River.    Evans seconded that message.    

“Because I’m a big advocate of protecting the river, as you know.  I think that’s the key.   I think that’s what sets Oakley apart from a lot of other places in the county, is we have a river that runs through it.   And our job is to protect as much of that as possible, while still maintaining property rights.   The county and other cities are a little more generic on river stuff.  But we could be a little bit more specific on protecting the river bottoms.”

Oakley Planning Commissioner Doug Evans.

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