A change to Moab’s code requiring that new developments set aside a certain percentage of its units for “active employment households,” or essentially for members of the local workforce, has been in the works for almost eight months. 

The city’s most recent ordinance draft mandated that 42.5% of units in developments three units or larger, and within the R3 and R4 zones, be set aside. However, in April, the ordinance faced significant pushback and legal threats from homeowners, realtors from the Utah Association of Realtors, and the Utah State Legislature, who argued that the ordinance would impact property rights.

The ordinance appeared before the Moab City Council during its regular meeting on June 28.  

“The reason this is on the agenda is not for any action tonight, it’s to let the public know we’re working on this,” said Mayor Joette Langianese. She added that members of city staff and the council had been meeting and negotiating with the Utah Property Rights Coalition, Association of Realtors, and Homebuilders Association. 

The city is still facing legal threats because of the ordinance; the council held an executive/closed session following the regular meeting to discuss impending litigation. So far, the council is sticking with requiring that 42.5% of units be dedicated to housing the local workforce—in earlier ordinance drafts, the council discussed 33%. The 42.5% number was determined through data collection and analysis completed by the consulting company BAE Urban Economics. 

“The conversations have been good, it’s been an interesting process,” Langianese said. “But we still have some things to work out.”