Changes to Hailey's comprehensive plan will allow the city to require community housing in new subdivisions.
The Hailey Planning and Zoning Commission approved on Monday new language in the housing component of the plan. One of those changes declares that it shall be city policy to require developers to devote a portion of their properties to deed-restricted housing.
The P&Z's approval was in the form of a recommendation, to be considered by the City Council in an as-yet-unscheduled meeting.
In July, the city enacted a moratorium on new subdivisions, partly to give it time to develop community-housing rules.
"We needed to have language in the comprehensive plan that would allow us to enact these types of ordinances," City Planner Diane Shay said in an interview.
The P&Z will consider proposed ordinances during a workshop meeting Sept. 19.
Community housing comes with income restrictions on its buyers, and ceilings on the prices charged to subsequent buyers. Local governments see it as a way to reduce the ever-widening gap between home prices and local incomes.
Language newly added to Hailey's comprehensive plan states that a widely used standard for determining affordable housing is that a house should cost no more than 300 percent of a family's annual income. In 2004, the median price of a single-family home in Hailey was $367,000—about six times the estimated average income for a local family of four.
"Insufficient affordable housing within the city of Hailey and in Blaine County as a whole will result in a continuing escalation of the local cost of living, high employee turnover and difficulty in maintaining essential public services and a viable economy, as businesses, services and government compete for scarce workers who have to commute increasingly longer distances," the comprehensive plan states.
Current city ordinances address construction of community housing only as part of planned-unit developments. A PUD that devotes at least 10 percent of its units to deed-restricted housing can be granted certain benefits, the most frequently requested of which are private streets that are narrower than public ones, giving a developer more land to build on. Nine community housing units, totaling 18 bedrooms, are being constructed through that process.
The PUD ordinance, enacted in 2002, also grants a density bonus to developments that devote at least 20 percent of their units to community housing. As yet, however, no developer has taken advantage of that provision.
At its next meeting, on Sept. 12, the City Council will hear an application by the Blaine County School District to build eight community-housing units on city-owned land adjacent to Woodside Elementary School. Six of the units will be reserved for teachers and two for city employees.
Hailey also contains 382 deed-restricted rental units.
The comprehensive plan states that it shall be city policy to coordinate community-housing development with Blaine County. During Monday night's meeting, Commissioner Elizabeth Zellers suggested the creation of a regional planning commission to coordinate all the development policies of the county and its cities.
Aaron Domini, community planner for Citizens for Smart Growth, said his group has supported that idea.
"The first issue should be transportation," Domini said. "But that doesn't seem to be going anywhere."