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Is This Weekend’s Snow a View of the Future?

A friend mentioned to us this morning that we needed to listen to a radioWest interview with Jim Steenburgh, professor of atmospheric science at the University of Utah. She found his comments on how increasing temperatures will impact Utah snowfall interesting. He basically said that Alta and Snowbird would have a ski industry for a long time, due to their elevation. He felt the Park City resorts would continue to get snow at higher elevations but lower elevations would pose a problem. The takeaway is that elevations above 7,000 feet would continue to get snow regularly. However, the bases of Park City resorts would likely get a lot less snow than they do now. He also made it clear (perhaps half in jest) that people who enjoy cross country skiing at lower elevations may want to find another sport.

Then later his afternoon we were excited to read about a Winter Storm Warning for the Wasatch. We dug into the details and got less excited. We started thinking how this forecast dovetails into the interview with Professor Steenburgh. Here is the winter storm warning from the National Weather Service (NWS):

Winter Storm Warning remains in effect from Midnight Tonight to 6 pm MST Monday above 7000 feet.

  • Affected area: The Wasatch and Western Uinta mountain ranges and the northwestern portions of the Wasatch Plateau.
  • Snow accumulations: accumulations of 10 to 20 inches. Primarily above about 7500 feet. Locally greater amounts are possible above 8000 feet across the Wasatch Range.
  • Timing: snow will increase across the Wasatch Mountains tonight, then spread south and east across the remainder of the northern mountains by early Sunday. Rain and snow will continue heavy at times Sunday through early Monday, then gradually decrease in intensity and areal coverage Monday afternoon.
  • Snow levels: snow levels at the beginning of the storm will be near 6000 feet. Snow levels will rise to near 7500 to 8000 feet Sunday morning and remain high Sunday night then lower again below 6000 feet on Monday.

We noted, according to the NWS, that the majority of heavy snow will be above 7500 feet. There will be quite a bit of rain below those elevations. For reference, Deer Valley’s base is at about 6500 feet. Yes, there will be snow at the base but there will likely be a decent amount of rainy-mix too.

So, what does that portend for our future? The reality is that no one knows. Even Professor Steenburgh caveated his study, noting that weather is complex. It also doesn’t take into account snow making. That said, if it’s raining at certain elevations you can’t really make snow there.

Therefore, we look at this weekend as an opportunity to see what winter in Park City might be like in 10-20 years. We’ll pay attention to what people are doing. Are people skiing or are they hanging out at coffee shops, instead? Is the traffic coming up from SLC horrible or is it pretty light? Are people happy or do they have that look on their face you get when you are soaking wet? We don’t know what the outcome will be but it should be in interesting to watch.

Above all, it may be an informative visit from the Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come.

You Rarely Stop Things In Park City But You Can Postpone Them

We received an email from a person last night asking whether “we really thought that the Uinta Express Pipeline would be stopped” by low oil prices. The answer to that is no, but it does highlight a position we find ourselves taking more often. In Park City, we believe you can STOP very few things; however, you can POSTPONE them.

A perfect example is the land that the Hyatt Hotel is being built upon in Snyderville. The owner had the rights to build offices and a small restaurant. They had those rights for very many years and built nothing. Then it seems a developer thought they could make more money with a hotel. The neighborhood was pushed to endorse their hotel idea — some would say through fear. Now, old trees are torn down…soon to be replaced by stucco and commerce. Could development of that land have been stopped. No. The owner had the right to build office space and a restaurant there. When would that have happened? Today? No. Next year? Still unlikely (there’s too much of those things right now). Five years? Maybe. Ten years? More likely. Twenty years? Yeah.

So the question is, would you have preferred to leave the land open for 10 more years and then have someone build office space and a restaurant or do you prefer having a hotel now? Unless you were the land owner, the developer, or got the construction job we think we know the answer.

We aren’t crazy enough to think that development can be postponed forever; however, we do know that Park City will probably look different in 10-20 years. Instead of accelerating that time line, why not keep it measured. In other words, you are living in the Garden of Eden. Do you listen to the snake and eat the apple now or do you hold off for a few years and enjoy paradise while you can?

Will the Tesoro Pipeline Through Utah Be Postponed?

Oil prices plunged another 4% today to $56 per barrel. Yesterday we read about how that is causing US shale oil to become unprofitable to produce. Today the BBC reported that the UK’s North Sea Oil industry is in a state of crisis.

That’s leaves us wondering how lower prices will impact Tesoro’s proposed pipeline through Summit County. It appears waxy crude, the variety that is supposed to flow through this pipeline, costs more to produce than standard oil. So, one would think that if they will produce less oil in general due to lower prices… they would produce and ship and LOT less of oil that requires more work (and cost).

If the lower oil price trend continues, what are the chances that Tesoro will postpone the pipeline? While we are just speculating…. we’d say pretty good.

Is Park City’s New China Bridge Parking Plan Enforceable?

We heard this morning on KPCW that the city was going to use license plate readers to enforce parking limits of 6 hours at the China Bridge Parking Lot. It was claimed that this will prevent people from changing parking spots to avoid a ticket. Today they put white chalk marks on tires. Tomorrow they’ll scan your plate and track whether you’ve spent more than the allotted time in the garage. Perfect. The City is using $40,000 technology to foil those most evil doers in our society… the Main Street worker who leaves her job for 5 minutes to move her car to avoid a ticket. Don’t worry Park City, you are now safe.

The only problem? This doesn’t seem to jibe with the Park City Parking Code. There is section 9- 3- 3. TIME-LIMITED PARKING IN COMMERCIAL AREAS that says:

“Public streets and public parking facilities within commercial areas may be designated with time limitations. It shall be unlawful to park a vehicle in any area so designated by posting signs or meter legends for longer than designated time limits. Vehicles parked longer than posted time limits are subject to fine(s) and/or impoundment.”

Where’s the problem? It’s in the definition of the word park. Park is defined as:

“Stopping, standing, or leaving a motor vehicle in a fixed spot or location on a street or public parking facility for any length of time, except when required to stop or stand because of the flow of traffic, or to yield to other traffic, or in compliance with the requirements of traffic control devices or police officers.”

So, if you move your car, you don’t appear to meet the definition of the word park. That’s the problem with these sorts of ideas. How far is the city willing to go to get people to buy permits.

It looks like they’ll have to go far enough to actually redefine the word park.


Hello Irrational Exuberance. We Haven’t Seen You In a While.

Every where we read, listen, or look in Park City we see big expectations of growth. A few examples:

  • A Hyatt hotel has been started in Snyderville
  • The Summit County Building Department says the upcoming 2015 construction year “looks to be good, if not a little better” than 2104.
  • Summit County is hiring more building inspectors to prepare for this demand
  • Mountain Accord wants to connect Park City with the Wasatch Front via underground rail.
  • Park City Schools are probably going to issue a $20-$30 million dollar bond next year for a new Junior High.
  • Vail is going to spend $50 million on Park City Mountain Resort
  • Bonanza Park is going to be the next City Creek.
  • Summit County is hiring 8 new employees

It’s as if no one remembers the Great Recession of 2007-2010 or perhaps they don’t think it can happen again. The problem is that the fundamentals that caused that event are still in play. Nothing has been fixed. Unfortunately, our community is going right along with it. Perhaps the best example is building inspectors. County Manager Bob Jasper has said repeatedly that the County needs these inspectors but that the builders are willing to pay for them via increased fees. That’s all fine and well… unless building declines..and with it the fees. Then who pays those salaries?

We heard this morning that the Mountain Accord people are counting on Federal and State funding to build underground rail. They may want to consider that federal funding may be a little hard to come by with a debt levels of $18 trillion.

The examples go on and on. What appears to be happening is that leaders have extrapolated the last couple of years where borrowing money has been cheap and the wealthy have done well via the stock market. We saw this through the number of cash sales for homes in Park City. Yet, things are slowing down. Economies like China are slowing down. Oil is cheap, which you may think is good, but it signals a world wide slow down. Credit (the ability to borrow) is tightening (become harder). There are a few large countries which are teetering on bankruptcy (Russia and Venezuela). In many ways it has the feel of 2006-2007.

Yet, Park City is plowing forward. Boom and Bust. Boom and Bust. It’s a little frightening. Couldn’t we have waited to get one minor recession under our belts to make sure that our underlying economy was solid before we started right off where we were in 2005? We guess not.

Instead we are building like the music will never stop. Except it always does. We just hope when it does, Park City can find a chair.

What You Should And Shouldn’t Put in Your Curb Side Recycle Bin

If you are like us, you probably think you know what you can put in your curb side recycling bins. We thought it was as simple as remembering paper and plastic can be put in the bins, while glass and styrofoam can’t. After listening to Recycle Utah Director Insa Riepen this morning on KPCW, we now know that it’s much more complicated.


  • Paper (if you can tear it)
  • Cardboard
  • Plastic (but not plastic bags)
  • Aluminum Cans
  • Milk containers


  • Plastic grocery store bags
  • Ziplock bags
  • Newspaper bags
  • Glass
  • Styrofoam

Ms Riepen did say that you can bring styrofoam, glass, and your plastic bags to the Recycle Utah’s facility by the Yard and they will accept it there.


What Can Be Built Where

For every plot of land In Summit County, zoning defines what can be built there. Each zone then has acceptable uses. So, for instance, the area by Home Depot is zoned Community Commercial. Then, using the table below, you can determine what is available in the “CC” zone. An A mean acceptable. An L means its OK with a Limited Use Permit. A C means its OK if they can get a Conditional Use Permit.

Some of the various zones are Rural Residential, Hillside Stewardship, Mountain Remote, Community Commercial, Service Commercial, and Neighborhood Commercial. By looking the chart below (provided by the county) you can see (as of the date this was written) what is approved where.

You can then use this map to see how any piece of land is zoned. These are some pretty powerful tools to help understand what can be built where.


Use RR HS MR CC SC NC Additional Reference
Accessory buildings under 2,000 square feet A A A A A A
Accessory buildings between 2,000 square feet and 10,000 square feet L L L * * *
Accessory buildings over 10,000 square feet C C C C C C
Adult/sex oriented facilities and businesses * * * C * * Subsection 10-3-5J of this title
Agricultural sales and service * * * L L *
Agriculture A A A A A A
Auto impoundment yard and towing services * * * * L *
Auto rental * * * L * *
Auto repair, service and detailing * * * L L *
Auto wrecking yard * * * * * *
Automotive sales * * * C * *
Banks and financial services * * * L * C
Bars, taverns, clubs * * * L C C
Bed and breakfast inn C C C * * *
Building and maintenance services * * * L L *
Camp * C C * * *
Campground * C C C * *
Car wash, commercial * * * L * *
Cemetery C C C C * C
Childcare center with 9 _ 16 children C C C * * C Section 10-8-7 of this title
Childcare center with more than 16 children C * * L * C Section 10-8-7 of this title
Childcare, family, fewer than 9 children L L L * * C Section 10-8-7 of this title
Childcare, in home A A A * * A Section 10-8-4 of this title
Churches, schools, institutional uses C * * C * C
Commercial kennels C C C L L C
Construction equipment rental * * * L C *
Construction equipment storage * * * C L *
Construction management office * * * L L *
Construction sales, wholesale * * * L L *
Construction services, contract * * * L L *
Cultural activity C * * L * C
Dwelling unit, accessory A A A A A A Section 10-8-5 of this title
Dwelling unit, agricultural employee L L L * * L Section 10-8-5 of this title
Dwelling unit in the ridgeline overlay zone L L L L L L Section 10-2-13 of this chapter
Dwelling unit, multi-family C * * C * C
Dwelling unit, single-family attached A L L C * C
Dwelling unit, single-family detached on a lot of record outside of a platted or recorded subdivision L L L * * L
Dwelling unit, single-family detached on a lot of record within a platted or recorded subdivision A A L * * A
Dwelling unit, two-family or duplex C C * C * C
Funeral services * * * L * *
Gas and fuel, storage and sales * * * C L *
Gasoline service station with convenience store * * * L * C Section 10-8-8 of this title
Golf courses C C * C * *
Group home C * * L * C
Healthcare facilities * * * L * C
Historic structures, preservation of, including related accessory and supporting uses L L L L L L Section 10-8-11 of this title
Home based businesses, class 1 A A A A * * Section 10-8-4 of this title
Home based businesses, class 2 L L * * * * Section 10-8-4 of this title
Horse boarding, commercial C C C C * C
Horse boarding, private L L L L * L
Horse stables and riding academy, commercial C C C C * C
Hospitals * * * C * *
Hotel, motel or inn with fewer than 16 rooms * * C C * C
Hotel, motel or inn with 16 or more rooms * * * C * *
Indoor entertainment such as bowling alleys, skating rinks, movie theater, performing arts center * * * L * *
Laundromat * * * L * C
Logging camp * C C * * *
Manufacturing, custom * * * L L *
Manufacturing, heavy * * * * C *
Manufacturing, light * * * L L *
Medical equipment supply * * * L L *
Mining, resource extraction * C C * * *
Nursery, retail * * * C * *
Nursery, wholesale C C C C C C
Nursing home C * * C * C
Offices, general * * * L L C
Offices, intensive * * * C * *
Offices, medical and dental * * * L * C
Offices, moderate * * * L * *
Open recreation uses, commercial C C C C * C
Open space A A A A A A Section 10-4-4 of this title
Outdoor display of merchandise, off premises * * * * * *
Outdoor display of merchandise, on premises * * * C * *
Park and ride C C C L L L
Parking lot C * * L L C Section 10-4-9 of this title
Parking lot, commercial * * * L L C
Parks C C C A A A
Personal improvement services C * * L * C
Personal services * * * L * C
Pet services and grooming * * * L L C
Property management offices/check in facilities * * * L * *
Public facilities C C C C C C
Recreation and athletic facilities, commercial * * * L * C
Recreation and athletic facilities, private L L L C * L
Recreation, public C C C C * L
Recycling facilities, class I A A A A A A Section 10-4-13 of this title
Recycling facilities, class II C * * L L L Section 10-4-13 of this title
Rehearsal or teaching studio for creative, performing and/or martial arts with no public performances * * * L * L
Repair services, consumer * * * L * C
Residential treatment facility C * * L * C
Resort lifts, new C C C * * C
Resort lifts, replacement L L L * * L
Resort operations L L L * * L
Resort runs, new C C C * * C
Resort structures under 5,000 square feet L L L * * L
Resort structures 5,000 square feet and over C C C * * C
Restaurant, deli or takeout intended to serve a neighborhood * * * L L C
Restaurant, drive-in or drive-up window * * * C * * Section 10-8-9 of this title
Restaurant, full service * * * L * *
Retail sales, associated with service commercial * * * * L *
Retail sales, convenience store * * * L * C
Retail sales, food * * * L * C
Retail sales, general * * * L * C
Retail sales, larger than 40,000, less than 60,000 square feet in size * * * C * *
Retail sales, larger than 60,000 square feet in size * * * * * *
Retail sales, wholesale * * * L L *
Satellite dish antenna 36 inches in diameter or less A A A A A A
Satellite dish antenna, more than 36 inches in diameter L L L L A L
Seasonal plant and agricultural sales T T T T T T
Signs L L L L L L Section 10-8-2 of this title
Ski lifts, private C C C * * C
Ski runs, private C C C * * C
Stockyards * * * * * *
Storage, RV or boat * * * C L *
Storage, self-service * * * L L *
Storage, vehicle * * * C L *
Structure in the ridgeline overlay zone L L L L L L Section 10-2-13 of this chapter
Telecommunication facilities, collocation A A A A A A
Telecommunication facilities other than collocation or stealth C C C L L C
Telecommunication facilities, stealth L L L L L L
Temporary facilities in association with a redevelopment application T T T T T T
Temporary structures T T T T T T
Trailhead parking, designated, within 300 feet of a residential parcel: C C C A A A
Major (more than 10 parking stalls) C C C A A A
Minor (up to 10 parking stalls) L L L A A A
Trails, community wide A A A A A A
Trails, neighborhood L L L L L L Section 10-4-16 of this title
Transportation services * * * L L *
Truck stop * * * C * *
Typesetting and printing facility * * * L L *
Utility facilities, aboveground C C C L L L
Utility facilities, major C C C L L C
Utility facilities, underground L L L L L L
Vehicle and equipment sales or rental * * * L L *
Vehicle control gate C C C * * * Section 10-8-12 of this title
Veterinarian * * * L L C
Warehousing and distribution, general * * * C L *
Warehousing and distribution, limited * * * L L *
Wholesale construction supply * * * L L *


Do You Want a Pawn Shop Next To Your House?

Do you want a dollar store in your neighborhood? How do you feel about a cigarette shop? Maybe a laundromat? Don’t like those? Then it’s time to spend a few minutes, get educated, and voice any concerns.

Summit  County has created proposed Land Use Maps for major neighborhoods in the Snyderville Basin. These maps show, among other things, where they are considering allowing more commercial development. If growth happens, as predicted, commercial development will increase as well. The county doesn’t want this to be haphazard, so they are trying to figure out how to best manage it (and where to put it).

That doesn’t mean you will necessarily like what is being proposed. The county seems to understand this and is generally asking for your feedback. While there are many meetings planned, all you really need to do is email your feelings to the county. However, if you don’t provide feedback, please keep in mind that the look and feel of your neighborhood could be very different in 5 years.

It’s also important to understand how this eventually will work. We’ve heard people say “I wouldn’t mind if they allowed a nice coffee shop to come into my neighborhood.” However, that’s not how it works.  There are various classes of zoning that indicate if commercial development is allowed. Those are commercial, light industrial, industrial, neighborhood commercial,  community commercial, service commercial, resort center, and town center. Once an area gets zoned, anything approved for that zone can be built there. So, it’s generally impossible (using normal zoning) to allow only a coffee shop somewhere. For instance, you may hear that they want to make an area “Neighborhood Commercial.” That’s one of the “least commercial” options. With that designation, though, you can still apply for a conditional use permit allowing anything from a laundromat to a bar. So you may think you are getting a coffee shop but what ends up being served may be a little bit stronger.

That being said, these meetings are really about getting the public’s input on where they want to put more commercial activities, open space, etc. We would suggest looking at the Draft Land Use Maps and finding your neighborhood.  Then look for any area that says “Mixed Use Receiving Area.” This means that it would be an area where the county would make it possible to have more tightly spaced buildings and/or commercial offerings.  Then imagine that area with more business in it. Perhaps a grocery. Maybe a gas station. It could be a restaurant. There could be all sorts of businesses that would spring up there. Are you OK with that? If so, then you may want to write the county and let them know. Hate the idea? Then you for sure want to write the county and let them know.

So, who do you write? A good place to start is Summit County Community Development (i.e. the County’s planning and zoning folks). They are one of the most open groups to receiving feedback that we’ve been around. You could email the director, or the Planning and Zoning Administrator, . They will get the info to the right person.

The positive spin on this is that you have an opportunity to shape the future of what our community looks like. The negative spin is that the community is going to change, so you better start fighting for what you want. The reality is that if you don’t speak up you will be a casual bystander as these events unfold around you. If you ignore this and finally decide to say something “next month” or “next year”, it will likely be too late. So, why not start now when you can make a difference?

If you want more information, there is an open house at the Kimball Junction Library building (Richins building) on Tuesday from 4PM-6PM. That’s a great place to learn and ask any questions you may have. If you can’t make it, please do at least take a look at the land use maps mentioned above and email your feedback to or .

We can’t emphasize it enough. This is very important.