Preparing for growth and addressing housing affordability and affordable housing are top priorities in Utah’s cities and towns.
City leaders across the state are utilizing the keys they hold to strategically create new opportunities and build new partnerships to manage the issues affected by growth. While their intent to prepare for growth is universal, their approach is naturally as different and diverse as Utah’s cities. There is no one-size-fits-all answer to growth management as two of our cities, Cedar Hills and Salt Lake, show.
Housing Affordability in Cedar Hills
Housing affordability is an important topic in Utah, and as elected officials and staff, we are working to do our part while also maintaining what residents love about Cedar Hills.
As we look at how we can do our part to plan for housing that is affordable at many levels, we recognize that we face unique challenges. These include a lack of available land as we are almost built out, distance from major transportation corridors, distance from employment centers, and a lack of public transit. We also recognize there are other factors that impact the affordability of housing that are outside of city government control, such as land costs, rising costs of labor and materials, construction labor shortages, and market conditions. We are committed to helping provide opportunities for affordable housing in Cedar Hills, and as such we have implemented the following:
- We recently updated our Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) ordinance. As part of this, we eliminated all impact fees and reduced the registration fee from once per year to once per household, making it more affordable for residents to own and operate an ADU, such as a basement apartment.
- We allow for single-room rentals. Every house in the city may have up to four unrelated individuals living in the house.
- As part of a settlement agreement we created a new PD-1 zone that is mostly residential with smaller lots, at 7.2 homes per acre just west of The Charleston. This is some of the highest residential density in our city. As it is located near North County Blvd, it is a good location for a higher density development.
- We have allowed higher density housing in the form of townhomes on the two streets in our city considered collector roads, which are Canyon Road and Harvey Blvd.
- Within the last six years, we had an outside firm evaluate our building impact fees and adjusted them accordingly, which included removing some impact fees altogether.
Salt Lake City plans for growth
Utah’s capital city leads the state in the number of new housing units with the greatest amount of municipal investment in affordable housing. The bustling city, which doubles in size with its workday population, is home to residents and businesses, which is inherently much different than a bedroom community or a small city in Utah.
Salt Lake has, among many things, implemented the following to foster growth.
- Adjustments have been made to zoning and accessory dwelling units are approved citywide.
- Adjustments have been made to building height and density.
- Our taxpayers were willing to pay higher taxes to help us prepare for infrastructure improvements, affordable housing, public transit expansion, and neighborhood safety.
- The city has adopted Grow SLC, a plan to help city leaders manage growth.
- Salt Lake also is working to support diverse economic development opportunities for businesses of all sizes, from incubators to the expansion of established companies.
Salt Lake has dedicated tens of millions of dollars to a whole spectrum of affordable housing needs, including loans to help developers build affordable housing and stepping into the market, to help redevelop problem properties, particularly where density makes sense. Our investments have leveraged hundreds of millions of dollars in private investments. We’ve partnered with housing authorities and other agencies, and we’re about to complete building two new homeless resource centers.
Unique needs across the state
Efforts made by the leaders in these two very different communities are addressing the specific growth needs they face. Each of Utah’s 248 cities and towns will likely have their own unique needs which will be addressed with the keys municipal leaders hold. In fact, , we will continue to share specific solutions to growth issues from many of the 1,380 mayors and council members in Utah on our website, ulct.org. We encourage all stakeholders, including legislators, to recognize these efforts, collaborate with us as mayors and council members, and let cities work to implement smart solutions appropriate for our diverse communities.