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Charlie Sturgis for Mayor

We heard Mountain Trails’, Charlie Sturgis, on the radio this morning. He was talking about the change in season and it got us to thinking about how much we appreciate his efforts. Every time we hear him, whether he is talking about dogs on trails, current conditions, or the need for open space he seems so balanced.

So, while we aren’t even through this year’s election… can we be the first to  say, that in a town that lives and dies by recreation, he should Park City’s next Mayor.

 

Summit County Ignores Another Possible Issue with the Basin Rec Bond Election

Many people are aware of the county missing the required date to provide a Notice of Election for the Basin Rec Bond; however, there may be another, just-as-serious issue, that the County has chosen to ignore. When a bond is going to appear on the ballot, the County has to have an official public hearing on the bond. According to Utah Statute 11-14-318 this public hearing has to occur between 30 days before and 5 days before the first Notice of Election.

So, when was this public hearing for the Basin Recreation Bond? It was August 20th. When was the Notice of Election made ? October 20. That’s 61 days. Twice the statutory limit.

This issue was brought to the Summit County Council’s attention during a meeting that enabled citizens to say why they were for or against the bond on October 29th. The council deferred the question to the Snyderville Basin Board of Director’s legal counsel who provided a number of answers, none of which made sense, at least to us. He replied that the October 29th meeting (that we were currently in) was the required Public Hearing. When a council member replied that would be after the October 20th Notice of Election (and not the required 5 days before), he then stated that the public hearing was actually required to be 5 days before the election and that October 29 was 6 days before the election. Then when shown the actual statute saying “notice of election” and not “election”, refuting his latest argument, he replied that there were many meetings. A council member chimed in that there are different timelines and requirements. That was the end of it.

Yet, we still believe that the public hearing date requirement was violated. We’ll explain below but first let’s talk about why this is important. The reason public hearings about a bond are required to be in close proximity to an election is because the state wants to ensure that people are paying attention to the election and are considering the bond in terms of the upcoming vote. If not, a public hearing could be held far enough in advance that it inhibits people from participating in the process. In the case of this bond, there appears to be little opposition to it (as stated by Basin Rec representatives). Is that because when people were finally paying attention to the election, the bond public hearing had already happened? If that bond meeting had been performed closer to the election, would people have shown up, then organized, and then formed a group to oppose the bond? Would that change the outcome of the election? We’ll never know. We never got that opportunity, as required by law.

So, specifically why do we believe this statute was violated and the various comments about different timelines and requirements isn’t germane to this discussion? It’s been insinuated that there were many meetings about the bond, going back to June 18th. Yet, a Public Hearing is a pretty specific thing. It’s not a working session. It’s not informal. It’s noticed in the paper and usually has specific language associated with the agenda item.

Why do we believe the Public Hearing for this bond happened on August 20th, 2014? Two reasons. First, the Summit County Council meeting agenda states specifically “Public Hearing regarding Special Bond Election fro[sic] Snyderville Basing Special Recreation District”. Second, it is followed by “the purpose of which is to receive input from the public with respect to (a) the issuance of the Bonds and (b) any potential economic impact that the improvements, facilities, or properties financed in whole or in part with the proceeds of the Bonds may have on the private sector”. Summit County typically puts language like that into agendas and motions so it matches word for word what is required by law. If you look back at the statute mentioned above, this phrase is used in 11-14-318 (1)(b)(ii)(B). We can’t seem to find either a documented Public Hearing or that phrase used for any other public meeting for the bond offering besides the one that happened on August 20. Therefore, we have confidence that this is the date of the Public Hearing as required by law.

As mentioned above, the official Public Hearing has to occur between 30 and 5 days before the Notice of Election. So, what’s the Notice of Election? Again, it’s not some informal statement on an agenda or a publication of testing of voting equipment. It is the formal publication that appears in the paper that says there is a bond election, what the proposition is, and when the election will be held. Here is the Notice of Election for this bond on the Utah Public Notice Website. You’ll notice it is dated October 20 (The Park Record is also required to post it and did so 10/22) and that it says “Election Notice”. Perhaps people are confused because the Notice of Election Statute (11-14-202 (2)) also refers to mailing pamphlets between 15 and 45 days before the election. However, above that in section 1 it specifically says Notification of Election and provides timeframes for the Notice of Election… which is what the “30 to 5 days before” is referencing.

So, as stated at the beginning of the article, we believe that the Public Hearing occurred 31 days before it should have. However, we all know that the Notice of Election came out late, so is that the cause of this secondary snafu? The Notice of Election was actually scheduled for October 11th but let’s say the notice was actually published on the first legal date possible (35 days before the election). It would have been published on September 30. That means the Public Hearing could be between August 31st and September 25th. The hearing would have still been early.

OK, then let’s say we are completely wrong about the Notice of Election date and somehow mailing pamphlets fulfills that requirement. Pamphlets were mailed October 15. That would mean the Public Hearing should have been between September 15 and October 10. The hearing would have still been early.

So, we could be completely off base and missing something fundamental. However, it seems pretty straight forward. The Public Hearing for the bonds appears to have happened a month early and that (if true) violates Utah Statute 11-14-318. As important, we can see how this could materially impact the outcome of this bond election.

This, along with the delayed election notice, were two reasons the Summit County Council should have removed the bond from the November Ballot. This bond could have come back in the next available election. The proper rules would hopefully have been followed and the public would have an honest shot at the participating in the whole process. It could have been done the right way, if only they were willing to wait.

As we stated in another story, you may think “what’s the big deal” because the last open space bond passed with a 30%+ margin. Yet, it is likely in the next few years you are going to see some sort of bond for 1 or 2 additional school buildings. That bond will likely be $30-$60 million. Will you still feel the same way then? Will you be OK if election rules aren’t followed on something you are opposed to?

That’s why we care about the process and want to try to ensure that it is followed every time.

7-11 (in Silver Springs) Inspection

Summit County Health Department inspected the 7-11 in Silver Springs on 10/14/2014. We have created a page on how to read the Inspection Report. We’ll highlight the things that may be of interest. Please read the full report below for a complete and accurate report.

Good Practices:

  • Toilet facilities well constructed supplied, and cleaned
  • Physical facilities installed, maintained and cleaned

Temperatures:

  • Hot Pockets / Walk-in 35º
  • Taquitos / rotisserie 152º
  • Hot Dogs / rotisserie 154º

Observations and Corrective Actions:

  • Food items on floor of walk-in (Hot Pockets)
  • Cold table above 41º
  • Store mop to air dry
  • Toxic substances stored beside sandwiches

The Entire Inspection Report Can Be Found here

The Summit County Council Chose Poorly When Allowing the Basin Rec Bond to Continue on the Ballot

On Wednesday evening, Summit County held a meeting to enable citizens to speak for or against a Basin Recreation Bond. Earlier, news had broken that the County would be violating Utah Statute 11-14-202 if they went ahead and allowed the bond to be on the Ballot. That statute says that election must formally be noticed in the paper 21 days before the election. However, the County Attorney provided examples of cases that indicated that perhaps the county only needed to substantively comply with the statute.

The problem is that these cases are ancient (1908, 1952, and 1967), two-thirds of these cases are not from Utah, and none speak directly to this issue. There is nothing definitive that indicates it’s acceptable for a Utah entity to notice an election late and then have a bond on the ballot. What we do have is a statute that definitively says notices must be in the paper 21 days before an election.

With nothing definitive to back it up, the County has decided to go ahead with the election, even though it violates statute in the hope that it won’t be challenged.

Some might say, “Does this matter? If the last open space bond election was any indication, this bond will pass with flying colors. Besides, everyone knows when the election is. It’s been all over the radio.”

We take a few issues with this:

  • The topic really shouldn’t matter. What if next time it was about something entirely different, say a school building, where people are very divided on the issue.
  • Just because certain people have the opinion that “information has gotten out on a subject” doesn’t mean it has. Take the Bonanza Park issue where all sorts of people came out and said they had never heard of proposed changes. People who may only read the paper occasionally may be different from those who follow local issues closely.
  • If the date of election notice, or even that there needs to be a notice, doesn’t matter, why is it in the statute?
  • What other parts of state statutes don’t need to be followed exactly? The hours of the election polls? The statute requiring any instructions given to voters be done by 2 people (one from each party)? The identification required to vote?

When you start drifting away from Utah Statutes about elections, it’s a slippery slope. What is done today could have unintended consequences tomorrow. It would have been far better for the County to suck it up and acknowledge that mistakes happen to everyone — but that mistakes do have consequences.

In this case, the bond would have been postponed to a later election. It probably would pass, like expected, but at least it wouldn’t be pushed through using semi-related, 1908 Utah case law to justify that rules don’t need to be followed. By waiting, they could have done it the right way.

Panda Express Restaurant Inspection

Summit County Health Department inspected Panda Express on 10/8/2014. We have created a page on how to read the Inspection Report. We’ll highlight the things that may be of interest. Please read the full report below for a complete and accurate report.

Temperatures:

  • Chicken / hot- hold 147º
  • Shrimp/ hot-hold 135º
  • Chicken / reach-in 15º

Observations and Corrective Actions:

  • Needs copy of manager’s certificate
  • Needs food handler cards updated

The Entire Inspection Report Can Be Found here

Realtors Be Prepared…

Park City Realtors, we hope that your still seeing lots of all cash buyers. If not, the future doesn’t look pretty.

Mortgage applications are at 19 year lows (i.e. 1995 levels)…
 
mortgage-apps
 
God speed Park City Heights and East Creek Ranch.

Park Rag’s Position on Basin Rec

With a meeting tonight by the Summit County Council on the Basin Rec Bond coming up, and the number of critical stories written over the past few weeks on the Basin Rec and the Bond, we wanted to clarify our position on the organization, bond offering, and our stories.

First, we like the people at Basin Rec and like the organization as a whole. We believe they have done many good things for the community. We are glad they are here and think they generally do a great job on day to day operations.

On the bond, we think it would have been better split into smaller bonds covering individual areas. We like things like open space but don’t like committing tax dollars to the “possibility” of an ice rink. It feels like these are packaged together on purpose to get less desirable items paid for.We really don’t know how we will vote on this yet.

As for our critical stories, there are a few different angles here. First, on the field turf potentially causing cancer, that scared us and had to be said. Second, on Jeremy Ranch, that brought up an angle we had never considered with Basin Rec. We always thought of open space as causing little individual issue. Our story on them converting a neighborhood field into a small dog park highlighted that it can cause problems. On the bond, there are thousand of dollars of marketing money being put into getting people to vote for this. While some of us involved in the Park Rag may end up voting for it, who is speaking for those who disagree? So we felt we needed to bring up issues to try to provide some balance to the conversation.

So, we don’t harbor any ill will against Basin Rec but we do think our citizens deserve as much information as possible. We won’t turn a blind eye and ignore potential issues just because they have been the darlings of the community for years. We hope you understand.

Park Rag Will Keep Comments Open

If you’ve been following us for a while, you will know how we reluctantly added commenting to Park Rag a few weeks ago and planned on giving it a couple of weeks to see how it went. We were worried that people would be rude or that no one would use it at all. The latter is far more close to the truth.

However, as often happens, what you don’t account for is what happens. We’ve received a couple of comments that have said what was posted was inaccurate. In one case, they appear right, and in the other we don’t agree. However, it does provide a mechanism for people to provide feedback on what is said, and we appreciate that function. That contributes to the conversation we are trying to have.

So, we are going to leave comments in place.

Thanks to everyone who has been participating, we appreciate it.

If You Don’t Want 5 Story Buildings in Bonanza Park You Better Speak Up

This morning Park City City Manager, Diane Foster, was on KPCW and was asked about the Bonanza Park form-based code redevelopment. Ms Foster said that people were concerned that there would be “8 story buildings” accompanying a Bonanza Park redevelopment and they were happy to learn that they would actually be 3 story buildings with the limited potential for 4th and 5th stories if affordable housing was added to the development.

That sounds great. New development will generally be similar in height as today. If buildings get taller, only 75% of the square footage of the bottom floors can be used on the 4th floor and 25% on the 5th floor. In the unlikely event someone wants those extra two stories they will have to build affordable housing. Does that make you feel better? Maybe it shouldn’t.

First, let’s ask why we care about height at all. Most people care about height because it blocks the view of ridge lines, mountain peaks, etc. Others worry that it contributes to too much of an urban feel in our little town. So, imagine a building where there is 5 stories but the top floor has 1/4 of the square footage but runs the width of the building. It still blocks the view and it still looks like it is 5 stories. We always think of the Sears Tower (now Willis Tower) in Chicago. It’s top floors are about 1/16th the square footage of the bottom floors but it’s still 1400 feet tall. Tall is tall, no matter how you slice it.

searstwoer

The second issue is the affordable housing component that may be required to build extra floors. That sounds good. We need to ensure that locals who aren’t millionaires can afford to live here. If that element is lost, it tears at our social fabric. We see why that argument could make sense. However, do you ever wonder why you don’t see a lot of affordable housing in Park City? It’s a little complicated, but let’s start with the way a developer can meet its affordable housing requirements:

  • Construct units on site
  • Build affordable housing somewhere in the city limits
  • Convert current non-affordable units to affordable housing
  • Construct units outside of Park City but within the school district boundary
  • Pay a fee in lieu of developing the units

So, what’s the likelihood of affordable housing ending up within these buildings? Perhaps Park City will specifically write into their code that current affordable housing rules do not apply to these areas and that the affordable housing must be within the base of the building. If not, then don’t count on any affordable housing in this area. The likely outcome, which often happens here, is the fee in lieu option. The developer will choose to pay their $300,000 in affordable housing fees to build that $3 million penthouse without having to sacrifice a thing. They get to use all the square footage at market rates on floors 1-3 plus they get the bonus penthouse(s) or condos on floors 4 and 5.

If you think that you won’t notice the extra height in Bonanza Park. Good luck with that. If you think that the good done outweighs the bad. Well, god bless you.

Right now, the Who’s “Won’t Get Fooled Again” is playing in the background.