- June 7, 2016

Downtown Zoning Will Come With Close Monitoring

by Jackson Hole. Media

The long-debated downtown planning and zoning regulations were voted on by the Town Council last night.

The rules, known as District 2, will move forward with reduced commercial square footage and a committee to help the town address the issues of how the square footage will be utilized.

Planning director Tyler Sinclair laid out the new rules which, he said, would incentivize housing in the downtown core.

Jeff Golightly of the Jackson Hole Chamber of Commerce praised parts of the plan that streamlined the development process, increased height, and reduced parking. But Golightly said he worried the proposal would not provide much housing and cause sprawl. He said that under the proposal, only 18% of potential development in the entire county would be downtown, “The other 82% will occur somewhere else,” he said.

“Imagine a circumstance where a landowner has a building that is larger today, with no housing, than would be allowed in the future. He would have to scrape a building and rebuild a much smaller building to put workforce housing on top of it,” he said noting that that would not incentivize redevelopment.

Former Mayor Mark Barron said, “My building exceeds the FAR. It’s been there for probably 60 years. It won’t be changing. It won’t be having a second or third story of housing above it as it could if the building could be replaced square footage for square footage.”

Mayor Sara Flitner said she supported a diverse stakeholder group to assure the business community that they were serious about working on things in the plan that may not work.

Councilor Don Frank said he thought it was important that the council be able to make changes if the regulations are not delivering intended results. “Time is as valuable as money,” Frank said, “if we are going to get no housing produced, we better do a course correction very quickly.” Frank advocated for the stakeholder group and close monitoring of the results.


Comments 3
  • District 2 LDRs need more work. We need to make sure that height and FAR restrictions, and the way we deal with non-conforming uses don’t stifle redevelopment.
    4 stories should be allowed.
    We need to cap commercial development to keep us from digging a deeper workforce housing hole.
    Bonus FAR should only be allowed for employment based deed restricted housing that is limited in size and doesn’t have a parking requirement. Market units shouldn’t be part of the FAR bonus.
    Requiring parking is the same as requiring that people have cars. We have a traffic problem. The new housing paradigm needs to discourage automobiles. Just like the suburban affordable housing model exemplified by Rafter J and Cottonwood has been replaced by denser approaches, there will be a next step and that will be small apartments in the walkable urban core of Jackson – with no parking requirement.


    • “The new housing paradigm needs to discourage automobiles.” This could be part of the solution, if it works. We know that most of the visa workers, and some of the illegals, live here without owning vehicles. But will the folks who are clamoring to live here accept a life in Jackson without a car? My impression is that the attraction of this place lies in what is OUTSIDE town.
      How liveable is Jackson without a vehicle? What if you have kids?
      What if you come here to ski, climb, fish?
      I would like to see this idea work. But I see unintended consequences:
      -This type of housing will select for transient workers and foreigners, legal and illegal. It will select against families. How does that further the goal of community?
      -People will accept this housing, but they will STILL own vehicles. They will park on the street in the summer. In the winter, expect a scramble. We will have a new “crisis”.

      I don’t know ANY young families who DON’T own at least one vehicle. So what are we trying to do here?

  • Developers can provide parking, but they are not required to. We need to attach permitting fees to the bonus units that support the enforcement of the deed restriction and parking restrictions on local streets. Our community is maxed out with people and traffic. New development has to be on the community’s terms: A laser focus on housing working people in the walkable urban core while not exacerbating the traffic problem. The community doesn’t have a responsibility to provide people with a specific lifestyle. The added expense of providing parking for a residence along with the expense of owning cars can be a drastic burden on a low income family’s budget. Apartments in the walkable urban core with access to shopping, entertainment, work and transit can allow people to live in Jackson without a car. I’m also optimistic that autonomous vehicle technology will change our transit landscape in the next decade making parking less critical.

    The community has a responsibility to steward our open spaces and stable neighborhoods. It’s obvious that we are overpopulated. Our responsibility to address the workforce housing supply imbalance will require sacrifices on behalf of the community – a more urbanized town core. It’s not unreasonable to expect some sacrifices in return from the residents of deed restricted housing – urban apartment life with less reliance on personal autos.

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