Legacy Lodge & Affordability

May 18, 2022

After yesterday’s decision denying Workforce rentals via master leases to businesses, we want to explain why this initial “no” could be a win for our community ultimately.

Firstly, it is critical to understand that this process has two steps: first, approving a Planned Unit Development (PUD) for allowing the apartment use at Legacy Lodge. This PUD application passed unanimously on May 3. Apartments are now a legal use of Legacy Lodge according to the County—this is a win!

Next, the Darwiches applied for a Conditional Use Permit (CUP) which would allow occupancy of Legacy Lodge. As you may have seen, this CUP permit failed 2-2 yesterday with Commissioner Macker absent; Commissioners Newcomb and Propst against; and Commissioners Barron and Epstein in favor.

The CUP can contain different conditions regarding affordability, transportation requirements, parking minimums, etc. While we applaud that the Darwiches want to provide housing for our community, we are concerned that there were not sufficient affordability parameters legally built into the CUP application. None of the units in Legacy Lodge would have been income-linked for community members.

We met with the Darwiches before they submitted the CUP application and suggested different avenues for incorporating income-linked homes. They did not alter their CUP application after our meeting.

The Darwiches can return to the Commission with an updated CUP application. They can work with us and with the Housing Department to create a deed restriction that would include income linkage as a legal tenet of the agreement. Yesterday’s decision does not necessarily mean that locals won’t live in Legacy Lodge. There is still room for a win-win-win for the community, the Darwiches, and Rafter J residents.

We need to remember that not all housing is created equally. If Legacy Lodge had been filled with market-rate units that businesses rent for employees (as the CUP would have allowed), there would be no legal guarantee that businesses would subsidize rents meaningfully for employees. Our top priority is providing income-linked units for occupants so they are not financially burdened by housing payments.

You all may remember when the Gill family submitted their application for an upzone for Northern South Park in 2020. Similarly, their application included no legal deed restrictions on any of the units (they did intend to donate ~80 lots out of hundreds that would have gone to Habitat and the Housing Trust). We did not support this application because the vast majority of these homes would not have been affordable to local community members. Now, we have a chance to make NSP a real benefit for locals.

Sometimes we need to say “no” to get to a “yes” that meets our mission to support housing affordability.