Affordable Housing Proposal Faces Backlash in Salt Lake City

A public hearing last week revealed widespread opposition to a plan to loosen density and height limits and reduce parking requirements to encourage more developers to build affordable housing.

May 17, 2022, 8:00 AM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

State Capital of Utah

Maciej Bledowski / Shutterstock

Salt Lake City’s efforts to incentivize affordable housing construction through a set of zoning reforms face opposition from multiple sides. As Tony Semerad reports for The Salt Lake Tribune, “The proposed tweaks to permitted density, additional building height, smaller setbacks, reduced parking required per dwelling, and expedited review at City Hall are backed by Mayor Erin Mendenhall, in an multifaceted attempt to help ease a dire lack of affordable rentals and homes for sale in Utah’s capital.”

The incentives are tied to developers allocating 20 percent of units to households making less than 80 percent of Area Median Income (AMI). “But a two-hour public hearing late Wednesday before the planning commission on the ideas drew torrents of criticism, from several perspectives — though all seemed to agree the envisioned rents of $1,400 a month under the plans were not really affordable to most residents.” Some called for lower rent limits to include more low-income people. “Several attendees called for direct rent controls on existing housing to improve affordability, which is prohibited by state law.”

In addition to the usual complaints about changing the character of single-family neighborhoods and parking, attendees at the hearing also expressed concern about the city’s failure to enforce its regulation on short-term rentals, which many housing advocates argue reduce available housing stock for renters and raise housing costs for long-term tenants.

Friday, May 13, 2022 in The Salt Lake Tribune

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