American Fork evidently is working to diversify it’s housing stock. Calling the concept “diverse neighborhoods,” a recent Daily Herald article notes how the city recently approved a large development that includes homes on large, medium and small lots.
The goal is overtly to mix residents with different income levels:
“In our ordinance system we have tried to get to the idea of creating neighborhoods — people with different income levels living together and not having people be so segregated,” he said. “We have tried to encourage a mix.”
The article also cites an example of a project, Rosewood, for which the city was willing to look at increased neighborhood density — one of the major themes of this blog.
Reading the article, I’m struck by a few things. Most superficially, the sources in the article never mention some of the best reasons to increase density and housing options. None of them, for example, bring up walkability. The obvious environmental and health benefits of creating mixed use development also never come up, nor does the fact that young professionals want to live in denser neighborhoods. These are curious omissions that perhaps suggest that some people in American Fork are still mired in sprawl mentality.
That said, however, the things that do come up in the article are generally positive developments and things that Provo could learn from. For example,
The housing options in American Fork include the planned community zone, flexible lot options, inner-block cottages and transit oriented development plans.
Those are exactly the sorts of things that most cities, including Provo, need more of in spades.
An even larger point is that Provo needs to maintain a competitive edge against cities like American Fork. It’s a good thing that this sort of housing is being built anywhere in Utah Valley, but with rapidly expanding housing, commercial, and retail sectors, the American Fork-Lehi area is starting to look like the center of Utah Valley. Provo remains a city with a stronger economy, better walkability and more diverse housing stock, but these developments to the north should provide the motivation to grow the city intelligently.