Arne Jorgensen

Arne Jorgensen

The Jackson Town Council on Tuesday began discussions about town Ordinance 473, which makes it illegal for more than three unrelated people to live in a single-family dwelling within Jackson town limits.

The council’s deliberation comes on the heels of weeks of public comments sent to the council. After a short discussion at their regular meeting Tuesday night — held Tuesday instead of Monday due to the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday — the council directed staff to look further into the issue and bring the matter back to the governing body at a future meeting, most likely a workshop.

Public comment the council has received regarding Ordinance 473 has been overwhelmingly in favor of overturning the ordinance, particularly amid the town’s ongoing struggle to provide affordable housing options for its local workforce. The town has set a goal of housing 65% of Jackson’s workforce locally, but frequently runs into barriers that make achieving that goal difficult.

Arguments made against the rule by members of the public and local organizations ranged from it being an obstacle to people finding affordable housing, to disproportionately affecting certain residents and potentially being weaponized by landlords, among other issues.

“I feel this ordinance is antiquated, conflicts with our community values, and presents an unnecessary barrier to affordable, sustainable housing in the town of Jackson,” wrote Jackson resident Kari Cieszkiewicz in her comment. “Further, this ordinance poses a particular threat to the most marginalized members of our community, particularly those with different immigration statuses, lower-income individuals, and people of color. This ordinance can be used and abused by landlords as a coercive measure against their tenants.”

Councilor Arne Jorgensen acknowledged that “there are many issues embedded in this, about housing, about parking,” but said he thinks it’s “a tactical item more so than strategic.”

Community Development Director Tyler Sinclair said town staff would likely bring the matter back to the council either at an upcoming workshop or as part of the Long-Range Planning Department’s work plan, which would be in April. Mayor Hailey Morton Levinson said she’d like to see the matter prior to then, and Councilor Jorgensen made a point to remind people that the process to overturn an ordinance takes a bit of time, per procedural requirements.

Contact Tim Woods at 732-5911 or town@jhnewsandguide.com.

Contact Tim Woods at 732-5911 or town@jhnewsandguide.com.

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(1) comment

Christine Hartley

This ordinance is useful in fighting off slumlords.

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