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Sedona city staff members prepare to draft a voluntary affordable housing policy for re-zoned projects; P&Z comments.
By Trista Steers
Larson Newspapers
________________


As Sedona city staff members prepare to draft a voluntary affordable housing policy for re-zoned projects, the Planning and Zoning Commission commented on how they think it should be implemented.

The commission said at its meeting Tuesday, Oct. 17, that it doesn’t think affordable housing should be weighed separately from other community benefits and that it is only comfortable with allowing specific incentives if the project is looked at in context.

The Sedona City Council directed planning and zoning to make comments on the issue of affordable housing following council’s approval of the Base Line Affordability Report in September.

The voluntary policy will be written taking the report, planning and zoning’s comments and input from the Housing Commission into consideration.

Input from planning and zoning was requested because providing affordable housing deals with many land-use issues, Assistant to the Community Development Director Audree Juhlin said.

According to Juhlin, the Housing Commission feels affordable housing should be considered separately when a developer is applying for a zone change.

“They would like that to be the first thing a developer sees,” Juhlin said.

Commissioners agreed that affordable housing is important and should be emphasized as a priority but they don’t think it should be considered separately.

“It’s a land-use issue,” Commissioner Terry Trujillo said, adding that affordable housing needs to be considered within the context of each project.

Tuesday’s meeting was Trujillo’s last as a Planning and Zoning commissioner.

Commission Chair John Griffin said he understands the Housing Commission is trying to push affordable housing forward — but thinks that rather than breaking it away from other benefits, incentives need to be provided to encourage developers to include it.

“Very, very strong incentives,” Griffin said, “is really going to give staff a big punch.”

“That’s the way I think you’re going to get more [affordable housing],” he said.

Possible incentives were also discussed at the meeting, including density bonuses, flexible development standards and fee waivers.

In general, the majority of the commission was OK with increased density on a case-by-case basis.

“There’s going to need to be some additional density advantage to do this,” Griffin said.

While this was recognized as a possible incentive, commissioners agreed that it wouldn’t be right for every project.

To allow increased density, building height requirements might have to be adjusted for some projects.

Therefore, each project would have to be evaluated in context, the commission said, so impacts specific to the site could be considered.

Whether a proposed development was in a hill or in a valley would greatly affect whether the density bonus should be allowed, Commissioner Vivian Beaugrand said.

Commissioner Allan Berg-quist was uncomfortable with the idea of altering height restrictions, saying they may be “opening Pandora’s box.”

On the other hand, the commission doesn’t feel the aesthetics should be compromised, which could happen if flexible development standards were included as an incentive.

Trujillo said when design is scaled back — including landscaping and parking — it reinforces the stigma people have about the appearance of affordable housing.

Juhlin will now take the commission’s questions and comments back to the drawing board and try to find some answers.

Planning and zoning will have another chance to address the issue Thursday, Nov. 16.

The Housing Commission will also comment on what it envisions the policy to entail on Monday, Oct. 30.


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