Salt Lake City

Salt Lake City embarks on effort to understand, mitigate gentrification

September 20, 2021

Areas of Salt Lake City that are prone to gentrification will soon be identified and engaged as part of a City-funded, community-driven planning effort. In partnership with Baird+Driskell Community Planning of Berkeley, California, the City is embarking on a year-long, citywide study to better understand where involuntary displacement most commonly occurs, where it is most likely to occur in the future, and what can be done to address it through policies, programs and other actions. 

“As we work to balance growth and preservation, it’s important for the City to ensure housing choice and equity for all our residents. We want our residents to be able to stay in the communities they have helped build. This study will serve as a catalyst to further break down the systemic inequities in Salt Lake City so the diverse community fabric that makes this place so special can remain intact,” said Mayor Erin Mendenhall.  

As the capital city of the fastest-growing state in the nation, Salt Lake City is at risk of losing long-time residents and businesses. Gentrification and involuntary displacement are tied to issues of racial, ethnic, and social inequities, and disproportionately affect lower income households and communities of color.

Historical and current zoning practices make building new housing difficult, which increases the costs of existing housing options. Additionally, new development tends to increase both property values and rents as new amenities come online, which means that even as new housing units are built, existing residents can be priced out of their homes, leading to involuntary displacement.

“We are in the midst of both a housing crisis and a historic building boom. Understanding the best policies and practices to keep residents in their homes and to ensure we are protecting the neighborhoods and communities that help our City thrive are more essential than ever,” said Blake Thomas, Director of Salt Lake City’s Department of Community and Neighborhoods. “We look forward to the process and the policy outcomes that will come from it.” 

Securing a firm to carry out the effort was part of the Mayor’s 2021 Plan, which she announced in January. An extensive and equitable community engagement process will be key, including work with community organizations, residents and business owners. 

“We look forward to partnering with the City, community organizations and especially those who are being most impacted to develop meaningful responses that help keep people in the neighborhoods they love and provide them with the stability and support they need to thrive in place,” said David Driskell, Co-founder and Principal of Baird+Driskell Community Planning. “The coming year will not be just a research and planning exercise; we will be working together to develop a shared understanding of the problem, build stronger networks and take coordinated action.” 

Baird+Driskell will work with subcontractors University of California Berkeley Urban Displacement Project and University of Utah Department of City & Metropolitan Planning on the project.

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