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Study Touts the Housing Affordability Benefits of Density for the State of Utah

The density debate can't be avoided in fast-growing Utah, according to the researchers and political leaders who support the findings of a new report from the University of Utah's Kem C. Garner Policy Institute.
December 21, 2020, 11am PST | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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Mitch Johanson

Tony Semerad reports: "With Utah’s housing shortage now reaching crisis worsened by the pandemic, researchers at the University of Utah have published a new guide to help cities encourage more homebuilding at more accessible prices — including some ideas not always popular with existing residents."

The Salt lake City Chamber of Commerce sponsored the research from the University of Utah's Kem C. Garner Policy Institute. The research provides a list of best practices, led, according to Semerad, by rezoning land to allow for higher-density development. According to the study, all the other recommended best practices depend on adding new density. "[W]ithout it, the institute’s economic analysts say, there is 'little chance' Utah’s cities and towns will get ahead of the problem," according to Semerad.

The article provides context for the density debate and also provides an explanation of the concepts behind transit oriented development—the latter is presented as am alternative to automobile-oriented sprawl.

"The U. study touts American Fork and Farmington, in particular, for significant successes in building major developments around their FrontRunner stops, with housing for residents in a variety of economic and social circumstances. South Salt Lake has seen similar advances, it says, with new zoning along TRAX lines, the S-Line streetcar routes and in its city center," writes Semerad.

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Published on Wednesday, December 16, 2020 in The Salt Lake Tribune
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