Salt Lake City’s Division of Housing and Neighborhood Development (HAND) is seeking public feedback on a recently produced report on inclusionary zoning programs. Inclusionary zoning refers to local land use ordinances that require or encourage developers to include affordable units in new residential developments.
HAND produced the report as part of Salt Lake City’s ongoing work to address the affordable housing crisis. In February, Mayor Jackie Biskupski released a draft of Growing SLC: A Five-Year Housing Plan, which is the City’s first comprehensive housing plan since 2000. During public outreach for the plan, staff heard strong feedback from advocates of affordable housing that inclusionary zoning was an important topic for discussion.
“Inclusionary zoning is one of the most well-known affordable housing practices around the country, with success and failure varying widely in each city,” said Melissa Jensen, Salt Lake City’s Director of Housing and Neighborhood Development. “We recognize these programs can also produce quite a bit of concern among residents and developers, so our goal was to take an unbiased look at how other cities have implemented programs, and gather as much information to help inform decision-making going forward.”
The report reviewed seven inclusionary zoning programs around the country and investigates several options for how Salt Lake City might implement a program. The report was also guided by the City’s Affordable Housing Finance Working Group, which recommended exploring options that would require 5-10% of new construction of projects over 50 units be affordable.
A potential first step identified in the report, would be to formalize the City’s practice of requiring affordability on housing developments constructed on land purchased from the City. Other options include a city-wide, mandatory program requiring affordability in projects of a certain scale; a voluntary program with developer incentives or subsidies; or a mandatory program targeted to a specific geographic region, with the City’s TSA zones explored.
The report also evaluated the limitations and best practices of programs around the country, including that most programs are focused on household incomes from 51% to 80% area median income ($37,700 to $60,300 for a household of four in Salt Lake City). Typically, Salt Lake City focuses affordable housing efforts on household incomes below 60% (approx. $45,000 for a household of four). Mayor Jackie Biskupski has prioritized efforts for households under 40% AMI (approx. $30,000 for a household of four), where the City currently has a 7,500-unit deficit.
“We need to be willing to explore all options to address the housing crisis for the long-term in Salt Lake City,” said Mayor Biskupski. “Our greatest concern today, must be for those individuals and families with no, to very low income, a group that includes people working in industries like hospitality and retail, to those moving out of homelessness.”
The report also makes clear that inclusionary zoning programs are typically one piece of a larger affordable housing strategy, which must include efforts to address the issue for extremely-low/very-low income populations. Programs must also be carefully monitored and able to undergo revisions to meet changing market needs the report states.
The inclusionary zoning report is informational only and does not make any policy recommendations. It was provided to the Salt Lake City Council for review. Members of the public can view the report, and provide feedback by visiting: https://www.slc.gov/housingstability/