Pinebrook affordable housing stirs debate: ‘We’re just kidding people if we don’t start approving projects’ like this
A proposed affordable housing project in Pinebrook spurred a wider debate among Summit County councilors about what the county wants to accomplish with its housing goals.
Across from a parking lot, kitty-corner to the Park City Day School and next to a group of townhomes sit two overgrown tennis courts in lower Pinebrook.
A developer wants to put four buildings there housing 22 apartments: a mix of one-, two- and three-bedroom units, all of them rentable for less than the market rate. Neighbors are overwhelmingly opposed to putting that many people on the 1.1-acre site, as Councilor Glenn Wright recalled the public comments the Summit County Council received about the proposal.
“I counted, I think, 238. I think seven of them were in favor,” he told KPCW.
The project came before the council for the first time Wednesday; the Snyderville Basin Planning Commission forwarded a negative recommendation in April. The land would have to be rezoned to allow for more than one unit — a council decision — and the project itself would need a permit from the planning commission.
Several people showed up to the Richins Building and attempted to comment on the project, but the council did not solicit feedback from the crowd and asked attendees not to speak. A public hearing is required before the land can be rezoned.
Councilors did not vote on the project but offered feedback about how to refine it. Most said 22 units is too many, in effect asking the developer, Resonance Ventures, to reduce the number of apartments.
Councilor Doug Clyde took issue with what he called the project’s lack of “integration” into the broader community, suggesting it could become known as a place where poor people live. He compared it to an affordable housing project in the Prospector neighborhood of Park City that was targeted with apparently anti-immigrant graffiti in 2017.
“I would expect that it would be treated just like that project has been, including the racial epithets that were sprayed upon the building," Clyde said. "Because that's what you do, that's what you get when you concentrate affordable units in one particular development, is you get people who look at them and say, ‘That's where the brown people live, and I don't like the brown people.’”
No councilor disputed the importance of integrating affordable housing into the community. Wright, however, refuted many of the complaints from neighbors, most based on parking and traffic.
According to documents presented at the meeting, the developer is proposing 37 garage parking spots for the 22 units as well as eight guest parking spots.
Wright agreed there would be congestion when the adjacent school begins and ends for the day. But he said the location was a good one for the project and he could support it if the developer made some climate change-related modifications.
“This kind of density is the only way we're going to build affordable housing. It just isn't going to pencil out any other way," Wright said. "… While this is a small project: 20 units, that's a drop in the bucket in terms of what we need countywide. But if we don't start approving projects like this, we might as well just take our goal of having affordable housing being a goal in our county, take it out of the plan, take it out of our goals, take it out of the Snyderville Basin plan. We're just kidding people if we don't start approving projects somewhat like this.”
Sean Steinman, the property owner and CEO of Resonance Ventures, said the development purposefully targets a housing need in Summit County: homes for those earning 60% of the area median income. In 2022, that's about $56,000 for one person and $80,000 for a family of four.
Steinman said the project is aimed for those in professions like teaching and nursing. According to the presentation, the townhomes would include one-bedroom apartments for between $717 and $1,912 per month depending on income. Two-bedrooms would be available for between $1,614 and $2,152.
Chair Chris Robinson said the county might be “groping in the dark” in trying to decide whether the affordable housing component of the project justifies the additional density. He suggested the developer wait until after the county submits a moderate income housing plan in October to request a public hearing and vote on the proposal.