The Community Housing Policy
Task Force was authorized by Resolution 2004-97, which was adopted by the
Flagstaff City Council on
Organization and Overview
During the six meetings in
April and May, the Task Force organized itself, and adopted a mission
statement: To make progressive and
practical recommendations to the City Council to improve, streamline and
facilitate the development of policies, procedures and regulation in order to
maximize the ability for the working population to live in
In addition, the Task Force
received brief overviews of the Land Development Code, the Regional Plan, and
the Community Land Trust Program.
Members analyzed the components of the cost of housing, heard reports on
the current market, projected developments and available land, and did a
Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats (SWOT) analysis of housing in
Identification of Specific Strategies
Each of the four subcommittees met separately during this timeframe to identify strategies that would achieve the Mission Statement. At monthly meetings the Task Force reviewed the recommendations from each sub-committee. It was determined that a timeframe should be associated with each recommendation as to whether, in the mind of the sub-committee, it could be implemented immediately (within two years), implemented within the short term (within two to five years) or implemented within the long term (over five years). In consideration of the timeframe for bringing recommendations to the Council, it was determined to concentrate on the immediate strategies identified by the sub-committees and accepted by the Task Force. During this time, the Engineering Standards and Zoning (also called Land Development Code) subcommittees merged.
Consensus and Recommendations/Report
The City brought in a facilitator to help the Task Force build consensus through critically evaluating the thirty-nine recommendations it had made “for immediate implementation”. In addition, the facilitator helped the Task Force with a policy statement about the beneficiaries of the housing created through these recommendations. Task Force members collaborated to prepare the report.
As described above, this report reflects the first set of recommendations from the Task Force. Considering the enormity and complexity of the task and the numerous suggestions that came forward, the Task Force felt it was premature to go to the Planning and Zoning Commission or City Council until it could actually make official recommendations. No quarterly reports were made in order to avoid presenting incomplete or misleading information that could detract from the mission of the Task Force. It was understood that the Council was being informed of the activity of the Task Force through City staff, Council members in attendance, and through the minutes of the Task Force. In addition, it is recommended the City Council expand the tenure of the Housing Policy Task Force to meet once in the Fall of 2006 to assess the progress of these recommendations.
The Task Force recommends that policies and incentives be tied to owner occupancy, or rental units inhabited by full time community residents with, wherever possible, permanent affordability ensured by a legally sound mechanism.
To identify specific initiatives for increasing the supply of workforce housing, members of the Task Force divided themselves into four subcommittees. The subcommittees met over several months, during which they brainstormed recommendations particular to their topic, assessed their potential implications, viability and appropriateness, and reported their findings back to the group as a whole. Originally, the criterion the Task Force used to sort the recommendations was that of time, whether the initiative could be implemented within two years, or would take longer. The Task Force determined that the recommendations, which follow, could be put into place within this shorter time frame. The set of criteria the group used to evaluate the recommendations included: impact on the number of affordable units, feasibility of implementation, availability of financial and other resources, and community support. The recommendations were measured against these criteria to help identify potential challenges. (See Appendix C.)
It became clear that the greatest challenge to implementing the recommendations could be in the area of public education. Most recommendations have the potential for significant impact and could be implemented on a policy/administrative basis with little trouble, but the Task Force believes public reaction produces the greatest prospect for roadblocks against achieving success. An overall recommendation, then, is that the City recognize this need and implement a public education process without delay.
The consensus reached by the Housing Task Force, in terms of the Land Development Code and engineering standards focused mainly on specific recommendations with intentionally few detailed numerical specifics to allow for additional research and discussion. The initial subcommittee recommendations did include specific details that are included in this report as Appendix D
The Task Force recognized that developable land in Flagstaff has become scarce. Rapidly increasing land costs have severely impacted the affordability of existing homes and the projected cost of new housing under development. Recommendations in this section are intended to increase the supply of or access to land for workforce housing.
City-owned and other publicly-owned land – The City owns several pieces of undeveloped land that could be used for workforce housing. The Flagstaff Unified School District, Coconino County, and Northern Arizona University are examples of other public entities that own vacant parcels of land. It is recommended that a survey of such vacant parcels should be made to:
· Identify City-owned parcels for immediate development of workforce housing;
· Explore use of other publicly owned land for workforce housing and mixed use projects.
Neighborhood Planning – The City has begun to do neighborhood planning in several sections of the City. Recognizing the limits of staff time and resources, it is recommended that neighborhood based planning take place throughout the City. It is recommended that this process should:
· Identify infill and redevelopment sites;
· Identify underutilized sites throughout the City;
· Develop incentives for redevelopment;
· Encourage placement of workforce housing throughout the community.
State Trust Land – Several sections of State Trust Land are located within or adjacent to the City limits. The State Land Department is required to maximize the benefit to public schools through the sale or exchange of these sections and has not been open in the past to other criteria. Because of the amount of land that could become available, it is recommended that the City:
· Advocate that as a condition of the sale or exchange, a percentage of the State Trust Land be used to provide workforce housing;
· Advocate that State Trust Land that is sold or exchanged for residential use include a restriction that a high percentage of the housing be owner/occupied;
· Require residential developments on newly acquired State Trust Land within the City to include workforce housing.
Forest Service Land – There are several parcels of U.S. Forest Service (USFS) land within or adjacent to the City that are heavily impacted by the urban interface. It is recommended that the City be involved in the upcoming planning effort for the Coconino National Forest to:
· Identify USFS sites that would be appropriate for residential development, including workforce housing;
· Secure community input concerning appropriate parcels;
· Identify ways that USFS sites may be obtained.
Annexation – Public and private lands adjacent to the City limits may be better utilized for denser development than allowed under County zoning designations. It is recommended that:
· Potential annexation areas be identified.
Discussions during the subcommittee process revealed that there was a great deal of crossover between the Standards and Engineering Subcommittees. The two agreed to merge and developed one comprehensive set of recommendations. In evaluating the subcommittee’s recommendations, two things became clear:
Perhaps one of the most important recommendations is for a comprehensive revision of the Land Development Code to address specific barriers and enable opportunities which will put an emphasis on housing affordability.
Similarly, expansion and improvement of infrastructure to facilitate infill projects and new development is a high priority.
While it is understood that ultimately methods and measurements for resource protection will be addressed in the LDC revision, there are a number of things that could be done now which would not have a significant impact on resource protection performance, but would free up more land within a project for development. Those include:
Another recommendation would allow for more efficient layout of lots in single family and duplex residential developments.
The Task Force also recommends that the threshold for requiring detention facilities be raised, allowing drainage to a public way in these instances:
A number of recommendations dealt with parking and driveway standards:
Another section of recommendations deals with basic zoning in multi-family and mixed-use developments:
Recommendations were also made in the area of setbacks:
Additionally, on the topic of accessory dwelling units (commonly referred to as “granny flats”), the Task Force recommends that the familial requirement for residency in accessory dwelling units be eliminated and that they be allowed on all lots over a certain size, with some exceptions in existing single-family neighborhoods.
There were also a few proposals of a more general nature:
The Task Force recognizes that funding sources to create workforce housing are limited. Federal, State and City budgets are strained and funding sources currently available may change yearly. Adapting strategies to continue funding workforce housing programs, projects and developments is of critical importance. Recommendations in this section are intended to identify the supply needs for workforce housing in our community and outline sectors of the community that can provide funding.
· Acquire significant bonding capacity to fund land purchases and development of more workforce housing;
· Partner with private sector and non-profits to leverage funding resources;
· Continue support of Federal tax credits for rental housing in Flagstaff;
· Support continued funding of AZ State Home Fund (down payment and other assistance);
· Promote the greatest leverage for CDBG funding;
· Increase Mortgage Revenue Bond programs;
· Pursue IDA mortgage and bond funding;
· Partner city programs with Fannie Mae programs;
· Reinvest money from land equities and housing program income to produce more housing;
· Pursue all new financing and funding sources to promote workforce housing stock;
· Create Capital Improvements Districts with a recapture agreement to stimulate housing production.
Private Employers and Major Community Employers - Public and private sector employers will be negatively impacted by the lack of workforce housing. The following topics to promote employer participation can have direct benefit to employee retention, recruitment and community goodwill:
· Educate employers as to the benefits of community sustainability;
· Employee homebuyer savings plans;
· Equity sharing programs;
· Homebuyer down payment and closing cost assistance;
· City/non-profits and private sector to promote housing counseling workshops to employers;
· Homebuyer counseling programs;
· Develop employee housing-mixed use development;
· Land Trust participation.
A. Enabling Resolution
B. Task Force Members and Participants
C. Evaluation Matrix
D. LDC and Engineering Subcommittee Final Recommendations