After attending the Town Hall meeting held by the Moab City Council on Dec. 11 concerning the proposed Planned Affordable Development Ordinance 2018-19, I would like to warn my friends and neighbors about the unacceptable impact the PAD ordinance could have on all neighborhoods in Moab.
The PAD attempts to provide a solution to the affordable housing shortage in Moab by allowing drastically increased density throughout R2 zoned residential neighborhoods, disregarding previous zoning restrictions and current residents’ quality of life.
I use the word drastically because the PAD would allow up to 40 units per acre to be built as affordable housing. This density means 40 to 160 people, 40 to 120 vehicles, and could easily quadruple the number of people living on a single street in the neighborhoods. The height of a building with 40 units is by itself hard to visualize when it is crammed on an acre lot considering the required parking spaces; ingress/egress roads and walkways would take up at least a third of the available space. Current building height and setback restrictions would not apply.
Here is a very real example. There is a 3.5-acre lot between East Center Street and Rosetree Lane that is being considered for a PAD. This could be developed into 140 units, housing 200 to 400 occupants, plus their guests, with 200 to 400 vehicles. The access to this lot would be near the east ends of these two narrow streets, adding 400 to 1,000 trips daily in traffic to streets that now see 20 to 100 vehicle trips in a day.
The building itself would be tall enough to eliminate views and block current residents’ access to sunlight for gardens and solar panels during the day. The lights from the apartments and parking lots would dominate the night in these areas, eliminating darkness. Backyard and even indoor privacy in existing residences would be compromised or eliminated.
This large lot is an extreme example of the impact of a PAD on my neighborhood. But if PADs are approved for all R2 residential neighborhoods, as the ordinance intends, many current Moab residents could face a similar situation. Even if it is 10 units on a quarter-acre lot or 20 units on a half-acre lot, the impacts are predictable and proportionate.
Look around your neighborhood. How many lots could be absorbed into this project? How many tall apartment buildings and how much traffic would be added to your street?
Some would call those of us who already live in these neighborhoods elitist when we protest this so-called solution to the affordable housing shortage. First of all, I wouldn’t wish life in that type of housing on anyone. How can 40 units per acre be a solution to the “crowded, undesirable living conditions” that lower-income folks are supposedly living in currently?
The people that assume lower wage earners are desperate enough to consider this more desirable are the true elitists. Secondly, when I purchased my home in an R2 zone, decades ago, jobs were scarce and pay was extremely low. We came here with no money and had to work hard to make it, even with lower house prices at the time.
We committed for the love of the place, community and quality of life. We have seen many of our friends, coworkers and neighbors make the same commitment even as both wages and home prices rise. We got no government assistance and expected none.
We have earned the right to defend this quality of life.