Utah’s Land Use Task Force focuses on inclusionary zoning and affordable housing

Rows of homes dot the suburban Salt Lake City landscape. The Land Use Task Force talked with the Political Subdivisions Interim Committee on Wednesday about its efforts to encourage inclusionary zoning and other plans of economic development. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

Utah’s Land Use Task Force is looking at ways to create inclusionary zoning, create moderate income housing plans and balance housing and economic development.

Chris Gamvroulas, president of Ivory Homes, and Cameron Diehl, executive director of the Utah League of Cities and Towns, presented to the Utah Legislature’s Political Subdivisions Interim Committee on Oct. 20. Garmvroulas andDiehl are both representatives of the Land Use Task Force in Utah. Lincoln Shurtz, the director of government affairs at the Utah Association of Counties, also spoke during the meeting. 

Stakeholders and representatives of the task force told lawmakers they are working to come to consensus about a more detailed framework for inclusionary zoning in Utah. Such a framework would require that when developing a parcel of property, a portion of the units being developed be dedicated to being affordable in perpetuity. Multiple drafts of this legislation are under consideration.

Diehl said that the task force is trying to make inclusionary zoning laws a “win-win between those who build the homes and the local governments who are responsible to maintain those deed restrictions and balance the property rights of all involved.”

Most of the Land Use Task Force’s time is spent reviewing the intersection between housing and economic development. Other organizations, such as the Unified Economic Opportunity Commission, also dedicate their time and efforts to this matter. Dialogue concerning this issue revolves around incentives and other economic development tools.  

Task force members said they are discussing creation of local economic opportunity zones that could receive priority for development opportunities. This would require local governments to meet certain criteria, such as planning for housing. 

In connection to the issue of housing and economic development, actions have been made to make moderate income housing plans requirements of cities and counties. Previous efforts to bolster these requirements led to the creation of SB34 in 2018. Now, every city above a certain population is required to plan for moderate income housing. 

Diehl and Gamvroulas also updated lawmakers on the state of HB98, a controversial bill that was passed through the Legislature, vetoed by the governor, amended and another version was passed in spring. The bill addressed issues of land use and zoning law, regulation and developmental design standards.

Design standards would affect what Diehl called the “missing middle housing,” housing that bridges the gap between small apartments and single-family homes. Many residents protest the development of this middle-income housing due to its design, but would be less likely to do so if design standards were higher. 

The Land Use Task Force consists of local government officials and real estate development officials who work together to address issues and suggest legislation dealing with housing development and zoning.

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