From now on, those who submit land-use applications to the City of Moab for overnight lodging uses may be subject to a yet-to-be-enacted assured housing ordinance. The Moab City Council passed a resolution giving the public notice of the change at their meeting on May 22.
The city plans to enact an assured housing policy after the completion of an assured housing feasibility study. Assured housing policies, also known as inclusionary housing policies, require certain developers to contribute to affordable housing in the Moab area to offset the demands that their developments or businesses place on the local housing supply.
“Housing stock in Moab is increasingly consumed by nightly rentals, second homes and tourism-related lodging,” the resolution states. “ … Pursuant to the 2018 Assured Housing Feasibility Analysis performed for the city, zero percent of the housing available in the Moab/Grand County area is affordable to persons earning wages typical in lodging/hospitality industry.”
The resolution also states that the future assured housing ordinance may include requirements to construct affordable housing units or pay a fee.
The resolution goes into effect immediately and will remain in effect for the next six months, or until the city council enacts an assured housing policy.
The other option the city considered was a moratorium on new land-use applications for overnight rentals until such time that the city passed the planned assured housing ordinance.
Council Member Mike Duncan asked City Attorney Chris McAnany which would be more defensible in court, the resolution or the moratorium.
“You’ve got statutory authority to do either one,” McAnany responded. “… I will say that moratoria, temporary land-use regulations, are again authorized by statute but we try to reserve them for true emergency scenarios and because of the drastic nature of the rule, it could potentially trigger concern among those parties that would be most directly affected. The resolution is in that respect less draconian because it allows development applications to continue to be reviewed, subject to the requirement that maybe the rules could change down the road.”
City Manager David Everitt added, “The idea with the resolution is to give a little more flexibility for the [development application] process to continue to happen.”
Council Member Kalen Jones argued that the housing crisis does indeed constitute an emergency in an indirect manner. “We have all heard that the lack of affordable housing has contributed to recruitment and retention challenges for law enforcement, emergency medical and health care providers and the schools. That threatens the efficient and timely provision of these services. In my mind that is an emergency,” Jones said.
Council Member Tawny Knuteson-Boyd said, “I worry about exacting something from that particular private sector … I’m leaning closer to the resolution than to the ordinance.”
The council did not pass the moratorium on land-use applications but rather passed the resolution, notifying land-use applicants that they may be required to comply with the future assured housing policy. The vote was unanimous. Everitt said the resolution would allow city staff to move forward on processing land-use applications, but that applications will likely not be approved until the assured housing policy is passed.
With regard to the assured housing feasibility study, City Planner Jeff Reinhart said that phase two of the study has just been completed and will be available to elected officials within a few days.