There is no one singular solution to Utah’s Housing Crisis. Rather, the Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute has identified five “best practices” for meeting the housing affordability challenge in Utah. This article will describe how zoning changes are not only essential for keeping up with market prices but necessary to counterbalance rising housing prices.
Until recently, housing policy discussions rarely included conversations about zoning. However, Utah’s extraordinary demographic and economic growth has brought zoning to the forefront of housing policy discussions. It has become apparent that although zoning restrictions may confer benefits, they also raise housing prices. By changing those policies to make them less restrictive, we can counterbalance the rising prices of Utah’s housing market.
Since 2015, the median sales price of a home in Salt Lake County increased from $269,000 to $405,000, and the monthly mortgage payment on a median-priced home increased from $1,490 to $2,110. This troubling price trajectory can’t be tamped down without a larger supply of high-density housing. Unfortunately, current zoning regulations hamper the possibility of more high-density housing. As it exists now, zoning lags Utah’s market preferences.
The necessary changes are clear: we must push to revise zoning policies. In order to accommodate our state’s needs, our zoning must allow for high-density housing and up-zoning, both of which allow for more people to inhabit a smaller area. As a result, the housing supply would increase, and the average unit price would decrease.
While some may be hesitant to support zoning changes because they believe it would allow construction to go unregulated, this is far from the truth. When zoning policies are changed, they aren’t erased, but simply updated. In fact, regular updates are vital for ensuring that regulations reflect current housing preferences and requirements.
In order to retain a healthy housing inventory, we must be responsible for changing outdated regulations in order to allow for higher-density living. Learn more about your area’s zoning policies, and push for changes that benefit Utah’s housing market.
As businesses, you can play a role. We will be sharing videos from trusted community partners that we encourage you to share widely — along with articles and blog posts with vital information on the housing crisis each Utahn now faces. Together, we will work to close the gap and ensure that we — and our children and grandchildren — can continue to access safe and affordable housing in our great state.
*If you would like to share your story of how the housing crisis is affecting your business, please reach out to Ginger Chinn, Vice President of Public Policy at email@example.com.