Time to act on housing affordability

Return To Article
Add a comment
  • Utes Fan Salt Lake City, UT
    Oct. 30, 2017 11:37 a.m.

    @Mike Richards - South Jordan, Utah
    "With today's technology, there is little reason for having 90% of the population living along the Wasatch Front. We have a large State. We need communities in every part of the State. There are plenty of hard working people in the more rural areas and plenty of opportunites for high-tech companies."
    I agree completely. Unfortunately, the high-tech companies are not willing to play along. Such as Pluralsight's recent announcement to expand in South Jordan instead of Davis County.

    Also, many high-tech companies don't allow remote workers. Allowing workers to work from home more frequently would help, and even allowing remote workers in small towns in central or southern Utah would help immensely. Unfortunately, high-tech companies instead pack workers into crowded, open space office buildings. And we wonder why we have serious traffic problems and non-affordable housing along the SLC metro area.

  • Utes Fan Salt Lake City, UT
    Oct. 30, 2017 9:50 a.m.

    "The solution is to encourage more young people to engage in vocational training, increase training programs across the state and liberalize immigration policies to allow more workers. Excellent jobs are available in the construction trades if our education system prepares young people for them."

    This is a contradiction. Liberalizing immigration will discourage young people to seek vocational training to solve the so-called labor shortage. You cannot increase immigration and expect existing workers to train in the areas where additional cheap-labor immigrants are being brought in.

    Let the free market work: wages will increase, workers will naturally migrate to the higher-wage vocations, and there won't be a worker shortage, if there even is one now. Liberalizing immigration will prevent workers from training in these areas.

  • UtahEngineer Sandy, UT
    Oct. 30, 2017 1:29 a.m.


    On my last post got my 550 pound gorillas and my 5550 pound purple hippos mixed up.

    The lack of affordable housing in both the homeless housing plans and the Envisioned Utah future planning scenarios, constitutes a 5550-pound purple hippo in the parlor Fatal Flaw!

  • UtahEngineer Sandy, UT
    Oct. 30, 2017 1:23 a.m.

    The total lack of housing affordability in Utah's Envisioned future planning as well as the homeless housing plans constitutes a 550 pound purple hippo in the parlor....fatal flaw.

  • UtahEngineer Sandy, UT
    Oct. 30, 2017 12:45 a.m.

    Open Minded Mormon said,

    "When a developer makes a new neighborhood, the entire development of the homes is levied with all the additional tax burden required to build that neighborhood....".

    "Roads, water, power, gas, sewer, fire hydrants, lights, curb and gutters, sidewalks...[cut]....Each NEW home was assessed that additional value,.... ~ $15,000 per home over 20 years... ."

    When I suggested something along these lines at a local meeting, which was looking at the Mid Jordan TRAX extension of UTA's TRAX system, one prominent supporter of the DayBreak Development...[or should I say of Kennecott Lands Co.]... criticized me as though I was proposing the end of 'mom' and 'apple pie' in America.

    In other words, it was O.K. for Kennecott Lands Co. to pay for just the costs of the E.I.S. study....[a million dollars or so]..., but not have to pay for the entire added costs to extend the original Mid Jordan TRAX line way round the west side to DayBreak development, about $140 million extra.

    The local coterie of true blue believers in Envision Utah and Smart Growth are all for the latest Smart Growth theories, but still want the magic of massive freebies from government.

  • UtahEngineer Sandy, UT
    Oct. 29, 2017 4:04 p.m.

    Mike Richards said,

    "Try driving through South Jordan in the morning or evening. 90th South is clogged. 104th South is clogged. 114th South is clogged. 123rd South is clogged. "

    We have not added East-West freeway links, over the last four decades as recommended by the Institute of Transportation Engineers.

    Also, despite the fact that Northern Utah has had the highest reliance on freeways in America, the valley Mayors chose, 20 years ago, to focus billions of dollars in taxes taken from car users into building trains.

    Back in 2006, I made and displayed to politicians, large charts showing how minute the share UTA's trains would carry, compared to predicted growth in demand as calculated by WFRC engineers. Quadrant by Salt Lake valley quadrant, l compared the modeled demand for trip-making in the 2002 WFRC LRP, with the best Federal Transit Administration net, net estimation of future ridership on the West Valley, Mid Jordan, and Draper TRAX light rail extension lines.

    UTA trains would never affect growth curves. The predictable result has been that UTA's trains have failed miserably at taking up growing demand for adequate freeway-supported local road grid.

  • RedShirt USS Enterprise, UT
    Oct. 26, 2017 5:15 p.m.

    To "Husker2" our highschools are not intended to have kids graduate with a degree in Engineering or Computer Science.

    Our colleges do a good job educating kids in those fields. The problem is that no many kids want to go into STEM jobs.

    As for rents, those costs are not that high. You can find apartments outside of downtown for $650 to $700 per month. If you are ok with roommates you can get a room in a house or shared apartment for $150 to $300 per month.

  • Open Minded Mormon Everett, WA
    Oct. 26, 2017 4:41 p.m.

    I lived in another state for decades.

    There are ways to make this work - but it requires an evil not many in Utah are wiling to accept = state and local government regulation.

    It works like this --

    When a developer makes a new neighborhood,
    the entire development of the homes is levied with all the additional tax burden required to build that neighborhood and it is included in the purchase of the newer homes and neighborhoods.

    Roads, water, power, gas, sewer, fire hydrants, lights, curb and gutters, sidewalks, along with fire and police.
    Each NEW home was assessed that additional value, and it then added only to those home owners needing the new services. ~ $15,000 per home over 20 years, or about $65 per month.

    This accomplished 2 things.

    1. Newer homes initially cost more than older homes, and they held a higher value longer.

    2. Older homes, and those already on fixed incomes did not see their taxes rise year after year to pay for other peoples new developments, and it kept housing even more affordable in already established neighborhoods.

    It was the FAIR and honest thing to do....

  • NoNamesAccepted St. George, UT
    Oct. 26, 2017 3:52 p.m.

    The proper place for high density housing is in urban centers where residents can truly enjoy the benefits of high density. Being able to walk to work, to the grocery store (or corner market), to the park, and to lots of restaurants are the real advantages to individuals and society of high density housing.

    Spot zoning to put high density in the middle of well established single-family homes doesn't offer any of the benefits of a walkable community. It just adds lots of extra cars to roads not designed for them as high density residents drive to work, to the store, restaurants, parks, and trails. It increased demand for taxpayer funded parks for those who didn't buy yards. It also adds to the profit margins of developers as they shift costs to existing residents. Economists call this "externalities" or "rent seeking". Laymen call it "crony capitalism".

    Mr. Banker isn't about to volunteer to have high density housing added to his gated community. He just wants the rest of us to accept it into our middle class neighborhoods.

    No more spot zoning. Keep high density where it belongs: Urban centers near jobs, stores, and commercial recreation.

  • Anti-Trump Everett, WA
    Oct. 26, 2017 12:57 p.m.

    Eco 101 = Supply and Demand.

    Low supply, high demand = higher housing prices
    Higher housing prices require higher wages.

    Unless you want Government to step in and regulate housing and wages,
    you better find a free market Eco 101 way to find strike balance.

    BTW --
    Is it just me, or is anyone else tired of listening to Trump crowing about WallStreet making $20 Trillion dollars,
    that he and the Republicans want to give huge tax breaks to those Billionaires,
    while --
    those of us in the Middle class haven't seen anything 'trickledown' or wage increases in over 10 years....

  • NoNamesAccepted St. George, UT
    Oct. 26, 2017 12:47 p.m.

    The op-ed discusses the problem, identifies a few peripheral issues, but fails to get to the core.

    There is a limited amount of land in the SL Valley. Yet government keeps trying to attract all the new jobs to that valley. Utah is 90% empty land. There is absolutely no good reason why we only have a single urban area with reasonable employment. (St. George is urban retirement, mostly low paid service economy.)

    Spread out a bit. Spot rezoning to allow high density into the middle of existing single family housing degrades quality of life for everyone except developers who make big bucks but never put high density next to their own homes. From southern Utah county to northern Washington county there is a lot of places for businesses and lower cost land for housing on I-15. Lots of other land along I-70.

    Impact fees protect existing residents from paying for new development. It takes money to provide increased water, sewer, power, and roads. No reason to shift these costs from those benefiting from them to existing residents except higher profits for developers.

    Housing is very affordable in rural Utah. Get some jobs outside the Wasatch Front and problem solved.

  • liberal larry Salt Lake City, UT
    Oct. 26, 2017 12:22 p.m.

    Utah has traditionally had a policy of keeping wages low to attract businesses, but it backfires when it comes to suppressing wages for skilled jobs like tradesmen and teachers!

    In our highly mobile society, these individuals either change jobs, or leave Utah!

  • Say No to BO Mapleton, UT
    Oct. 26, 2017 11:47 a.m.

    Anderson suggests that businessmen forgo profit.

    You go first, Mr. Banker. You go first.

  • SMcloud Sandy, UT
    Oct. 26, 2017 11:30 a.m.

    Salt Lake is limited by the mountains and people will always come to the Wasatch front because that is where the jobs are.

    We should have high density housing in the downtown area - high quality condos and apartments surrounded by restaurants and cafes and shopping. Make it walkable and pedestrian friendly.

    Create a nice city lifestyle and people will flock to it. Not everyone wants or needs a big house in the suburbs.

  • Husker2 Walla Walla, WA
    Oct. 26, 2017 11:17 a.m.

    From the article "Excellent jobs are available in the construction trades if our education system prepares young people for them."

    So why aren't our high schools preparing kids for the jobs that are available right here in Utah?? Why does every housing construction site only have workers who are clearly immigrants and well out of high school?? Meanwhile kids graduating from high school and college in Utah are faced with enormous rent or housing costs that force them to stay home with parents, grandparents, etc.

    Utah is quickly becoming a smaller version of California with overcrowding, rising cost of everything, and mismanaged government (including schools).

  • Mike Richards South Jordan, Utah
    Oct. 26, 2017 9:42 a.m.

    High density housing requires much more infrastructure than single family housing. In my neighborhood, the minimum lot size is 1/3rd acre with a single house per lot. So, even with large families, that means that there are 10 to 20 people per acre. Water lines, sewer systems and roads cost much less with 15 people per acre compared to 150 or more people per acre. Try driving through South Jordan in the morning or evening. 90th South is clogged. 104th South is clogged. 114th South is clogged. 123rd South is clogged. Some of those roads have three lanes each way, and they're still clogged. Look at the number of stores it takes to support high density. How about the schools? The police department? The fire department?

    I'm not against high density housing, but the complete picture must be seen.

    With today's technology, there is little reason for having 90% of the population living along the Wasatch Front. We have a large State. We need communities in every part of the State. There are plenty of hard working people in the more rural areas and plenty of opportunites for high-tech companies.

  • liberal larry Salt Lake City, UT
    Oct. 26, 2017 9:42 a.m.

    Salt Lake Valley is locked in by mountains, and most of the prime real estate has been taken.

    Relaxing zoning laws, and other regulations will drop prices for a while, but eventually these buildings will fill up, and the housing increases will resume.

    High housing costs seem to be inevitable in contained cities like Seattle, New York, San Francisco, and now Salt Lake City.

    Will Utah exceptionalism find a way to avoid this trend?

  • grimalkin Sandy, Utah
    Oct. 26, 2017 8:49 a.m.

    The competition for workers may be intense right now, but I would hate to see a push for lots of construction workers, and then when the big projects mentioned in the article finish, have a bunch of people out of work. That doesn’t sound like good planning either.

  • at long last. . . Kirksville , MO
    Oct. 26, 2017 8:11 a.m.

    So, the author wants to repeal the law of supply and demand. Lots of luck with that. Nothing is going to change too many people wanting to live in a built out area between two mountain ranges.

    It will be ludicrous to watch Salt Lake politicians try to figuratively 'hold back the tide' by throwing your tax dollars toward buying old beat up motels for 4 million dollars in order to build 'affordable' housing. How do the politicians define 'affordable'? 'Affordable' for whom'? Just another example of throwing your tax dollars at a problem to make voters feel good, but not even coming close to addressing the problem realistically.

  • Red Smith American Fork, UT
    Oct. 26, 2017 8:07 a.m.

    Our water policies are anti-home builder. We have 2017 market prices for water rights which home builders are required to buy give to cities as impact fees coupled with a 1985 Domestic Duty (indoor water required for a house) which are 55% too high.

    It's been over 30 years since we've updated the Domestic Duty, and the requirement should gov down from 400 gallons per day to 173 gallons per day.

    In 2009, the Utah Division of Water Resources best methods and analysis determined 173 gallons of water per day was used indoor by the average house, yet the Division of Water Right refuses to lower the Domestic Duty 55% to 173 gpd.

    The added cost per door just for this error is $4,200 in a city in Utah County. That's pure waste due to known error in our Domestic Duty.

    On an 200 unit condo project, that an added $840,000 for nothing of value to the home builder or home owner.

  • readme Provo, UT
    Oct. 26, 2017 7:44 a.m.

    Government regulations are the problem. For example, to build in Utah County it is highly likely you must build, pave and dedicate a road.

    For example, a 3/4-mile road with the required 12" of road base will cost $350k to $400k.

    Dead ends, cul-de-sacs, dirt and gravel roads are not permitted. Roads must have a separate entrance and exit. Your driveway cannot, even for 1 foot, pass thru a private, interior road.

    Expect to pay at least $27k for the required 9 acre-feet of water because monopolies monopolize, $25k for an at-grade wastewater treatment system, $8k to hook up your power, tens of thousands to bring utilities to your property, $9,500 to dig a 145-foot well.

    Brigham Young urged young men to build a 10x10 home, and plant flowers and shade trees to attract a young lady. Now you cannot build less than 1,200 sq ft.

    It is highly unlikely that you can buy raw land in Utah County, develop it, and build for under $350k.

    Utah County is 2,144 square miles in which 2,003 square miles is land and not water; 96% is outside of the incorporated towns.

    19th-century pioneers would have been denied settlement in Utah County.

    Plenty of land but insurmountable regulations.

  • patriotstate Cedar City, UT
    Oct. 26, 2017 7:39 a.m.

    We just relocated from the Northeast last December, and spent the first eight months in Herriman. The brand new housing is all high density, built on tiny pieces (it's difficult to call them "lots") of land. The homes are selling for New England prices, with hurry up levels of quality, without the land and without the feeling of community.

    We found a good quality existing home in Iron County, with land and views that are not limited to our neighbor's garage. It's not just about developers overbuilding down here, it's about providing decent places to live - and that is in conflict with developers' bottom lines.

  • Egyptian origins Salt Lake City, UT
    Oct. 26, 2017 7:13 a.m.

    In all areas of our life the cost of living is too high. I remember when houses were $10,000, but people argue that wages were also much less. Yet the % increase of houses is greatly disproportional to the % of wage increases. This is all due to insurance companies. Do your research. Those businesses which charge less, don't accept insurance; but if a business accepts insurance, their cost to you is as much as 200% mark-up. The housing industry is no different. At every stage there is an insurance company calling the shots. 2008 was not about lenders giving to people who didn't pay it back. It was about the insurance companies who forced the prices too high. It's poor business and anti-capitalistic which is supposed be to run on supply and demand, yet just like with cars, they won't lower prices beyond a certain mark. It's not because of labor costs and material costs. A fast food meal costs less than $.25, but they make a huge profit by charging $5 to $10; and that profit is not going to their employees. Get rid of insurance and we can make America great again.

  • Fullypresent Salt Lake City, UT
    Oct. 25, 2017 11:59 p.m.

    Who wouldn't love to buy a decent home, better home, or a new home? Many jobs in Utah do not pay well even with training and education. With many jobs wages are stagnant while the cost of housing continues to climb and climb. What was a $400,000 home is now an $800,000 home. There are nice, but not fancy homes, that are a $1,000,000. Think about the down payment for those and what you have to make to make a monthly mortgage for them. In Utah's quest to be a little Silicon Valley they are going to drive many families out of the housing market and discourage a lot more from moving here due to high housing costs and terrible air. Pride cometh before the fall but the same applies to greed.

  • toosmartforyou Kaysville, UT
    Oct. 25, 2017 11:25 p.m.

    And how much is Zion's Bank willing to do to help with the housing crisis?

  • a_voice_of_reason Woods Cross, UT
    Oct. 25, 2017 9:28 p.m.

    One thing is for sure - housing prices have increased dramatically. In just the 6 years or so since we bought our home the price for our starter home has risen nearly to the then-price of our dream home! Now our dream home is a price that we never would have imagined was possible.

  • Impartial7 DRAPER, UT
    Oct. 25, 2017 7:32 p.m.

    "Homebuilders say finding skilled labor is their biggest problem."

    Trade labor wages have been stagnant for 15 years. Homebuilders don't want to pay a fair wage even though they sell their homes for much larger prices and profit margins than 15 years ago.
    Plumbers, electricians, HVAC professionals can move to another state and make 30% more. Utah has a shortage of skilled labor, just like qualified teachers, because greedy people won't pay going rates.

  • Shaun Sandy, UT
    Oct. 25, 2017 6:54 p.m.

    There is not a shortage in the skilled trades because wages have not even kept of with inflation. The shortage talk is a scare tactic to get more immigrants here to drive down wages even further.

  • LOU Montana Pueblo, CO
    Oct. 25, 2017 6:44 p.m.

    Start with increasing wages. A home looks more affordable when you have more money.
    Money lubricates the wheels and the economy gets rolling.