Rose Center Land Use Expert Panel to Examine Regulatory and Process Impediments to Increasing Salt Lake City’s Affordable Housing Stock

 In All News, Press Releases

SALT LAKE CITY — The Rose Center for Public Leadership, jointly operated by the National League of Cities (NLC) and the Urban Land Institute (ULI), is working this week with Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski to advise the City on potential changes to its land-use regulations, zoning, and development review processes that would encourage housing development to meet demands for affordability in this period of rapid growth.

“We are honored to have such an upstanding organization as the Rose Center choose to devote its expertise, time and energy to Salt Lake City,” said Mayor Jackie Biskupski. “This on-site visit from the Rose Center’s expert panel will provide insight on issues hindering the development of much-needed affordable housing in our city.”

From 2010-2014, Salt Lake City gained 4,400 new residents, doubling the pace of growth that was recorded between 2000 and 2010. Estimates anticipate this growth will continue, adding an additional 30,000 residents by 2030. This burgeoning population is driving demand for more housing, and the city is currently experiencing a historically low 2 percent vacancy rate. At the same time, barriers to development—such as density limitations, prohibitions on different types of housing, and other regulations and processes—are also contributing to the housing shortage and exacerbating economic segregation. Many of these regulations were created at a time of population contraction and are no longer relevant to today’s conditions.

The Rose Center will focus on a section of the East Downtown area (South Temple to 400 South, and 200 to 700 East) that presents a bevy of redevelopment opportunities and challenges to examine the problem on the ground and explore solutions that could be applicable citywide. East Downtown has the highest transit ridership in the city and a fair amount of multi-family housing, but its zoning limits non-residential uses and greater development intensity. Passed in the 1970s and 1980s as a result of perceived development pressure that never quite came to fruition, the zoning change has resulted in very little reinvestment in the area and made most of its existing structures non-conforming. While it includes historic districts, East Downtown offers development opportunities in other places, including aging commercial buildings, surface parking lots, under-utilized mid-block areas, and infill parcels.

“Salt Lake City—like many other communities—faces the pressures of population growth, including a housing affordability challenge,” said Rose Center Director Jess Zimbabwe. “The Biskupski administration is looking to take a proactive approach to this problem by modernizing land use and zoning regulations. We hope that we can offer them some productive advice, and also learn from their efforts to help other communities experiencing this same challenge.”

The Rose Center’s mission is to encourage and support excellence in land use decision-making by providing public officials with access to information, best practices, peer networks and other resources to foster creative, efficient, practical and sustainable land use policies. Each year, the center’s Daniel Rose Fellowship program invites the mayors of four large U.S. cities to select a team with land use decision-making authority to receive technical assistance on a local land use challenge. This year’s fellowship class is from the cities of Columbus, Ohio; Richmond, Virginia; Salt Lake City, Utah; and Tucson, Arizona.

“Local leadership is critical to achieving the housing needs that residents demand,” said Clarence E. Anthony, CEO and executive director of the National League of Cities (NLC). “We look forward to working with Mayor Biskupski through the Rose Center to help Salt Lake City meet the its housing affordability goals, starting with the East Downtown area.”

The Salt Lake City region was identified as one of the top five investment markets in ULI’s 2018 Emerging Trends in Real Estate® in the U.S. and Canada—chosen primarily for its livability factors. Maintaining access to housing is likely a key to retaining its high ranking among favored markets.

“The Rose Center has an impressive track record of helping cities make themselves more vibrant, livable and successful,” said Urban Land Institute (ULI) Americas Chief Executive Officer Ralph Boyd. “Access to a variety of housing options is among the top priorities for cities around the country, and we look forward to working with Salt Lake City on ways to encourage more development of affordable housing. We’re confident that together, we can come up with solutions that will benefit the entire community.

Mayor Biskupski’s team includes her designated Rose 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; who are assisted by project manager Amanda Holty of the Redevelopment Agency of Salt Lake City. They will be joined by a panel of visiting experts assembled by the Rose Center.

The panel will be co-chaired by the Salt Lake City Rose Fellowship team’s faculty advisers: Nolan Lienhart, a principal and director of planning and urban design at ZGF Architects in Portland, Oregon; and Molly McCabe, president of HaydenTanner, a real estate advisory firm focused on sustainability and social impact based in Bigfork, Montana. The panel will include Rose Fellows from other cities in this year’s class: 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. Rounding out the panel are subject matter experts: 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.

Mayor Biskupski and her team will brief the panel, who will then tour the study area and meet with community representatives and advocates, business and civic leaders, and other stakeholders to share their local knowledge and perspectives. 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. 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.


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 cities of Anchorage, Alaska; Austin, Texas; Birmingham, Ala.; Boston; Charlotte, N.C.; Denver; Detroit; Grand Rapids, Mich.; Hartford, Conn.; Honolulu; Houston; Indianapolis; Kansas City, Mo.; Long Beach, Calif.; Louisville, Ky.; Memphis, Tenn.; Minneapolis; Nashville, Tenn.; Oakland, Calif.; Omaha, Neb.; Philadelphia; Phoenix; Pittsburgh; Portland, Ore.; Providence, R.I.; Rochester, N.Y.; Sacramento, Calif.; San José, Calif.; Seattle; Tacoma, Wash.; Tampa, Fla.; and Washington, D.C. have participated in the previous eight years of the program.

Recent Posts
Recent News