Affordable housing is an important topic in Utah, and in 2019 the State Legislature will again be discussing potential policies, incentives, and penalties to encourage more affordable housing throughout the state. As elected officials and staff, we have had several conversations on how we can do our part while also maintaining what residents love about Cedar Hills. We’ve also encouraged legislators to implement policies that encourage all types of affordable housing, but that does not enforce a one-size-fits-all approach as each city is unique and has different opportunities and challenges.
As we look at how we can do our part to allow for affordable housing, we recognize that we face several 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, all of which make Cedar Hills a less than desirable location for apartments. 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:
- As detailed in a previous newsletter, 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.
- We are looking to reduce home-based business regulations to allow residents to use accessory buildings for business purposes while also continuing to adhere to nuisance ordinances, such as lighting, noise, and parking.
- As part of the settlement agreement on the property located west of The Charleston, we created a new PD-1 zone that is mostly residential with smaller lots, at 7.2 homes per acre. 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.
From discussions we’ve had, it appears that state leaders will recognize that these efforts comply with their stated intent of increasing the number of affordable housing units in Utah. We will continue to have conversations with legislators encouraging them to recognize the efforts we have made and to allow each city to provide opportunities that work in their community. As always, we welcome your feedback on this important issue.
For those interested, here are some statistics and information provided in our recently approved Moderate Income Housing Plan on the current housing market in Cedar Hills. The entire Moderate Income Housing Plan can be viewed here.
- According to the American Community Survey (2012-2016), Cedar Hills had 2,679 housing units at 96.5% occupancy rate.
- The housing stock is relatively young, with approximately 66.8% of the housing units being
constructed 2000 or later, and a full 93% constructed 1980 or later.
- Single-family dwellings constituted 84.8% of the housing stock with another 9.7% being attached single-family dwellings and small multi-family units.
- Twenty plus unit apartments made up the remaining 5.5% of housing units.
An affordable unit is one which a household at the defined income threshold can rent without paying more than 30% of its gross income on housing and utility costs. A unit is affordable and available only if that unit is both affordable and vacant or is currently occupied by a household at or below the
defined income threshold.
Renters seem disproportionately burdened by housing costs in Cedar Hills according to rental
rates from the 2012-2016 American Community Survey.