National land use expert panel descends on Salt Lake City for analysis of factors impacting housing affordability

This week, Salt Lake City is the site of an intensive land use analysis of how zoning rules and development review processes impact development of affordable housing. From March 19-22, experts in planning, economic development, housing and community revitalization from across the nation will be in Salt Lake City to take stock of the regulatory and process barriers to increasing the City’s supply of quality, affordable housing – and will identify possible ways to overcome them. 

This advisory exercise is part of the Rose Center Land Use Fellowship, operated by the Rose Center for Public Leadership, Urban Land Institute (ULI), and the National League of Cities (NLC). Salt Lake City is one of four U.S. cities selected for the fellowship, a yearlong program to assess a specific land use challenge and provide practical and actionable advice to help tackle it successfully.

“Our city is growing and becoming more vibrant, which brings significant opportunities, but also significant challenges, such as being able to meet demand for good quality, truly affordable housing for a diverse range of current and prospective residents,” said Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski. “We look forward to hearing the panel’s informed and objective perspective on how land use rules, regulations and processes could be addressed to clear the way for the development of more affordable housing throughout Salt Lake City.” 

The panel will dig into Salt Lake City’s housing affordability challenges, focusing on the East Downtown neighborhood, during the four-day visit that includes site tours; small-group interviews with community representatives and advocates, residents, business and civic leaders, developers and other stakeholders; review of City land use regulations and plans, including the City’s housing plan Grow SLC; and deliberations about possible improvements. Drawing upon their professional expertise and experience, the panelists will apply the information gathered during the visit and present recommendations for how the City, its partners, and stakeholders can achieve their goals at a public presentation at 9:30 a.m. on Thursday, March 22 at the Regent Street Black Box (east side of the George S. and Dolores Doré Eccles Theater) at 144 S. Regent Street.

Curated specifically for Salt Lake City, the panel is comprised of land use experts, including: co-chair Nolan Lienhart, principal and director of planning and urban design at ZGF Architects in Portland, Oregon; co-chair Molly McCabe, president of HaydenTanner, a real estate advisory firm focused on sustainability and social impact based in Bigfork, Montana; former Miami planning director Ana Gelabert-Sanchez, principal with Gelabert-Sanchez & Associates and design critic at Harvard University; Russell Kaney, a program director at Enterprise Community Partners in Columbia, Maryland; Christopher Kurz, president & CEO of the Baltimore-based development firm Linden Associates; land use attorney Mark Noskiewicz, a partner with Goodmans in Toronto; and Molly Urbina, CEO of Urbina Strategies in Denver, who recently served as executive director of the Colorado Resiliency and Recovery Office. Rose Center Director Jess Zimbabwe and representatives from the other three Rose Fellowship cities are also on the panel, including: Carolyn Laurie, principal planner with the City of Tucson Planning & Development Services Department; Steve Schoeny, director of the City of Columbus Department of Development; and Bob Steidel, deputy chief administrative officer of operations for the City of Richmond. 

“The site visit is a fantastic opportunity for local leaders to gain insightful, actionable feedback from experts who’ve experienced similar, real-world situations,” said Brian Wilkinson, ULI Utah District Council Chair. “Salt Lake City’s selection for the Rose Fellowship comes at a pivotal and fortuitous time in the City’s development. We look forward to the results and seeing significant, positive changes that increase the City’s housing supply and maintain our high quality of life.”

About the Daniel Rose Fellowship

The Daniel Rose Fellowship is the flagship program of the Rose Center, established in 2008 by the ULI Foundation Governor Daniel Rose. The purpose of the program is to provide city leaders with the insights, peer-to-peer learning, and analysis needed to successfully improve their cities. The fellowship's program of work includes a study tour of another U.S. or foreign city, working retreats at NLC's and ULI's national conferences, and panel visits to each of the four fellowship cities.

The Salt Lake City Land Use Fellowship Team is comprised of Mayor Biskupski and her chosen Fellows: Danny Walz, chief operating officer of the Redevelopment Agency of Salt Lake City; Nick Norris, Planning Division director in the Department of Community & Neighborhoods; and Michael Akerlow, CEO of the Community Development Corporation of Utah. Salt Lake City’s expenses to participate in the program—including the panel's visit—are underwritten by the Rose Center to ensure objectivity during the process.  

 

About the Urban Land Institute

The Urban Land Institute is a nonprofit education and research institute supported by its members. Its mission is to provide leadership in the responsible use of land and in creating and sustaining thriving communities worldwide. Established in 1936, the institute has 40,000 members worldwide representing all aspects of land use and development disciplines. ULI has 53 District Councils in all 50 states, including Utah. For more information, please visit uli.org and utah.uli.org.

About the National League of Cities

The National League of Cities (NLC) is dedicated to helping city leaders build better communities. NLC is a resource and advocate for 19,000 cities, towns and villages, representing more than 218 million Americans.