It will be interesting to see if this spurs some affordable housing creation.
Bozeman looks at new angle to deal with housing By Nora Shelly Chronicle Staff Writer Jun 2, 2022
Bozeman officials are proposing another angle to try to increase the supply of affordable housing in the city.
The latest step in an overhaul of the city’s affordable housing policies is a proposed rewrite of the planned unit development code. The planned unit developments process, commonly called a PUD, allows relaxations from city development codes to be granted to developers in return for a public benefit.
The city is proposing to retool the PUD process to focus specifically on affordable housing creation, allowing relaxations for developers who are providing affordable housing. At a citizen advisory board meeting this week, senior planner Tom Rogers said the proposed changes were not a silver bullet.
“Everything that we can do, we’ll try to do our best to try to encourage and develop housing,” Rogers said.The proposed ordinance would repeal the existing PUD codes and create the new “planned development zones,” which would require at least 10% affordable housing at a targeted income range for both for-sale and rental properties.
The city staff proposal indicates the income range would be for those who make no more than 120% of area median income for for-sale units and 80% of area median income for rental units, though several Economic Vitality Board members questioned whether that range was appropriate for rental units during this week’s meeting.
“Eighty percent won’t cut it. It just won’t,” said board member Danielle Rogers.
The board tabled the issue and will take it up at a meeting in early July.
Tom Rogers said the relaxations under the proposed planned development zones would not be granted writ large, but only if city commissioners believed they were worth the benefits.
“It’s not intended to give one person a big bankroll, it’s really intended to better the entire community,” Rogers said.The zones would essentially operate as overlay zoning districts. Rogers said the process would allow developers to come into the city with a more general concept plan to get approval for a planned development zone than the current PUD process requires.
The zones wouldn’t allow for construction; specific site plans or subdivision proposals would also have to be approved.The proposed ordinance also includes planned development zones focused on retaining historic structures and sustainable design and large developments, in addition to affordable housing.
Rogers noted there are larger factors affecting housing costs than local zoning codes, something that also came up when city staff discussed in May a different proposal to allow for departures from city codes to benefit housing creation.“The land cost and infrastructure construction cost and labor account for roughly 95% of a home (price), so we’re talking about 5%,” Rogers said. “There’s federal requirements for stormwater, you still need transportation you still need life safety so now we’ve actually whittled it down to a little bit less. It’s still worth a try.”
Rogers said the proposed departures and revamped planned development zones are short-term actions. There is also an overhaul of the unified development code on the docket for the city and a rewrite of the affordable housing ordinance, which was obliterated by the state Legislature in 2021.