2019 Legislative Preview: Championing Affordable Housing, Smart Growth Policies

BY MEGAN MCNULTY

During the upcoming 2019 legislative session, the Salt Lake Chamber will be championing modernizing state’s local referendum laws, increasing the state’s investment in transit and more resources for local communities to plan for growth.

In just a few short weeks, the Utah Legislature will convene for their annual legislative session and plans to address the state’s emerging housing affordability challenge are beginning to take shape.

With the nation’s most robust economic and population growth over the past decade, community leaders are worried that a lack of smart planning to help accommodate growth could cause future generations to be priced out of the Utah.

We must grow smart. One symptom of growth is the housing affordability challenge that, if left unaddressed, will become a crisis. The impacts go far beyond simply finding an affordable place to live, to potentially eroding the very foundation of our economic prosperity. As we prepare for the 2019 General Legislative Session, the Chamber will lead the charge for smart growth policies.”

— Derek Miller, President CEO of the Salt Lake Chamber.
  • Top of the Chamber’s list? Modernizing the state’s local referendum laws, increasing the state’s investment in transit and more resources for local communities to plan for growth.

    The Chamber is not alone in its focus on smart growth for the upcoming session. Governor Herbert during his budget proposal for the forthcoming year noted: “It’s time for Utah to invest in smart growth that will guarantee a good quality of life for years to come,” recommending $30 million to help fund efforts to preserve open space and establish significant community parks which are tied to efficient land use, transit-oriented development and affordable housing.

    Additionally, the incoming Speaker of the House, Brad Wilson, and new Senate President Stuart Adams have both said a more comprehensive approach to managing growth is needed. Specifically the have noted the need for continued investment in the state’s transportation infrastructure, updating the state’s economic development strategy and revievieweing the underlying drivers of land-use decisions.

  • The state’s Commission of Housing Affordability has also spent the summer developing legislation that will update how cities plan for housing as well as provide more funding to the Olene Walker Housing Trust Fund.

    “Cities don’t build cities,” said Chris Gamvroulas, president of Ivory Development. “Developers build cities with cities and residents, guided by general plans. And general plans by definition are supposed to have a mix of housing product types so that people have opportunities to live close to where they work and recreate.”

    To augment these efforts, the Chamber has plans to launch a new campaign in the new year to help increase awareness of the housing shortage and growth pressures facing the state.

    “We need people to understand how to be part of the solution, and not just say ‘not in my backyard!’ – because really, they’re saying no to their kids and grandkids being able to afford to live in our state,” said Abby Osborne, the vice president of public policy and government relations at the Chamber.

Megan McNulty is marketing project coordinator at Ivory Homes.

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