City council approves zoning change to market-rate boarding house in east-central facing stiff opposition


In a much contested process opposed by a convergence of affordable housing advocates, neighborhood preservation advocates and anti-gentrification activists, city council had no problem on Tuesday approving a zoning change and amendment. in the master plan for the development of cohabitation in pension in a very sought-after area to the east of the city center.

The project, located at 129 South 700 East on a 1.55 acre site, will remove a central street (Bueno Ave) and replace 7 homes offering “natural affordable housing” with a 4-story, 65-unit building with 192 rooms. bedroom which will be rented individually, with shared kitchen, living room and laundry room. Each bedroom has a private bathroom.

Council’s unanimous vote was preceded by District 3 Representative Chris Wharton (Avenues, Capitol Hill) adding several conditions and legislative statements of intent to the ordinance. Legislative intentions are not legally binding.

Wharton conditioned the ordinance with the following stipulations, apparently in response to opposition concerns:

– no rental of less than 30 days

– developers collect materials from demolished buildings

– Legislative Intentions: instructed city staff to develop a “policy that outlines the expectations of city council when considering zoning applications to protect existing affordable housing or replace it if it is demolished… describing steps the city could take to preserve or expand the housing stock when considering zoning changes… and a policy to help mitigate the impact on the consideration of naturally existing affordable housing in the ordinance mitigation of ongoing housing losses.

Opposition to the Council’s public hearing on December 7 included Melinda Main, representing the Central East Community Council, who focused on the displacement issues in the Central East, arguably the most mixed-use area in the city :

“We continue to discourage the relocation of existing neighbors who depend on the affordable homes they currently rent,” Main told Council.

Jen Colby, another resident of District 4, pointed out that inner courtyard streets like Bueno are distinctive to the neighborhood, recognized in the master plan, and are “deliberately designed to accommodate the smaller workforce. scale on small lots. This is the kind of model that smart growth advocates are trying to bring back, and a terrible mistake to eliminate it.

Keenan Wells, a local resident who spoke in person, criticized the tenants’ loss of affordability and dignity – not being able to choose roommates in the project rental structure or use a kitchen (roommates will share a kitchen in the apartments).

The loss of dignity is also a message that Wasatch Tenants United, an anti-gentrification group, lobbied on social media: “We need affordable housing! NO dorms! »« No to micro-apartments. “No to shared bathrooms.

The WTU adjourned the city council meeting immediately after council voted unanimously in favor of the zoning change and the master plan amendment with loud chants outside the boardroom.

The posting caused awkward moments, after which board chair Amy Fowler, at her last meeting as chair, called for a “short break” and told the other members, “I wish you didn’t go out. not at this time. “

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