Jeff McCarthy’s recent op-ed on the impact of Salt Lake City’s building boom on historic neighborhoods and green spaces raises valid concerns, but must be viewed in the context of Utah’s housing crisis.
The Kem C. Gardner Institute estimates that Utah is short by about 44,500 homes. We must continue to build houses to keep up with population growth. A housing shortage will drive up prices and turn secret historic neighborhoods into exclusive enclaves for the wealthy.
While the aesthetics of new apartment buildings could be improved, this multi-family construction is a crucial part of the solution to our housing crisis. On the other hand, as McCarthy notes, smaller townhouses, duplexes, and triplexes are valuable tools for increasing housing supply while maintaining a smaller neighborhood scale. We need a wide variety of housing to meet needs.
Cities cannot be museum exhibits frozen in time. Rather, they should change based on the needs of current and future residents. The cost of stopping urban change will be a city that few people can afford to live in. We must make room for new neighbors while protecting those who already inhabit our communities. Salt Lake City’s Thriving in Place initiative is an important part of achieving this balance.
Salt Lake City