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Thoughts on Park City Heights

Over the weekend we took the opportunity to visit the site where Park City Heights is being built near Quinn’s Junction, behind the movie studio. Park City Heights is a master planned community approved by the Park City Planning Commission in 2011. The site will have approximately 240 units with a mix of market rate homes and affordable townhouses/condos.  The price point for the market rate homes was estimated to begin at $600,000.

Some thoughts on Park City Heights:

  • The view from the area is quite good.  You look up the canyon with a view of PCMR. It’s nice.
  • The road noise isn’t nearly as bad as we would have thought.  We could hear Highway 40 but it didn’t seem oppressive.   It will likely even be less with houses there.
  • At roughly the same price point as many homes in Silver Summit and Trailside, we wonder what this will do to those home values?   This will be about 10-15 years newer and is likely a more desirable area.
  • Traffic is going to be an absolute disaster — even with a stop light.  If you have driven 248 going to school or skiing and been stuck in traffic that backs up to Highway 40, you have seen the beginning of the issue. Now compound that with 250 more homes. “But don’t worry” you say “there will be a stop light”. Yep, except traffic on 248 basically is at a stand still. There will be no where for the line of traffic coming the PC Heights to go. So, a few cars will get through, while frustrated PC Heights Drivers behind them will go through the red light, blocking traffic both ways trying to get on 248.  If you think road rage is bad now, wait until Winter 2015/2016.  We fully expect to read about a fist fight on 248 in the Park Record sometime in January 2016. We’re just saying… this isn’t going to be pretty.  And no, widening 248 won’t help unless you can buy out a row of homes in Prospector.
  • As you drive into town on 248, look forward to your view of the mountains being obscured by traffic direction signs.  They will have to make that middle lane’s direction variable to allow more traffic in during the morning and out during the afternoon.
  • Is there a back, back way into town?
  • Where is the gas station that will need to support these home owners, the hotel, and movie studio going to go? Wouldn’t that area right across from the stop light that will be installed for PC Heights make a good spot for a Gas-n-Sip?
  • How do things get approved in 2011 and not start for 3-4 years? Things can change a lot in a few years.

Well, it should be an interesting few years.

You may want to put October 14 on your calendar

On Tuesday, October 14, The Snyderville Basin Planning Commission meets to discuss (and probably take input) on Phase 2 of the General Plan. Phase 2 could alter the landscape of what type of building can take place where in the Basin.

A few weeks ago we agreed with City Council Member Dick Peek when he implied that if the public comes out and speaks against a specific development, it just doesn’t matter that much.  This is because the General Plan and Development Code are used to guide what can be put where.  If you don’t want a Tesoro in your backyard, you probably want to start paying attention to these meetings and do your best to ensure the General Plan reflects your opinions.

We won’t know the specifics until around October 10, but we will post them as soon as we get them.

This probably wasn’t what they wanted to read…

This article on seasonal workers, referencing Scott Loomis, executive director of the Mountainlands Community Housing Trust, probably wasn’t what local officials, who are looking for solutions to our transportation problems, were hoping to read:

Workers with cars — often the ones who have them are coming from elsewhere in the United States — can also stay in Salt Lake City or Provo, though the commute, as well as finding parking in town, can be difficult. Some resorts also run busses from Salt Lake and Provo to Park City, but Loomis generally doesn’t advise going that route. “It’s expensive and inconvenient,” he said.

-Park Record, 10/3/2014


Park City’s Climate in 2050 is Forecasted to Be Significantly Different Than Now. Shouldn’t That Impact other Forecasts?

If you haven’t read a 2009 report prepared for The Park City Foundation on how climate change is expected to impact Park City, it is worth a look.

The key take aways are that the climate in Park City is changing. By 2050, the temperature will likely be 5ºF higher on average. Snow will start to accumulate 1.5 – 2 weeks later. Snow depths at the top of our mountains will be up to 36% less than historical averages. Because temperatures will be higher, snowmaking in the early part of the season will be impossible.

The issue is that many of our forecasts like population growth, visitors, etc. are one dimensional. They take into account the last 15 years and extrapolate that going forward. Yet, Park City’s climate, which is already less favorable for skiing than a place like Little Cottonwood Canyon, is hardly accounted for.

It seems as if people want to take a set of facts that support their case but ignore those facts that may impact that case. 2050 is a long way off, but that seems to be the measure that drives initiatives across the state and county. It is likely that many factors will change between now and then.

However, if the State of Utah estimates our population increasing 143% to 88,000, they also need to explain how that happens when our ski season will likely run from January 1 to March 15 and our average July and August temperatures will be 93º. Since it seems economics drive growth, all this has to be accounted for. The aforementioned report says, “By 2050, the potential impacts range from $160.4 million in lost output, $27.2 million in lost earnings, and 1,520 lost jobs (low emissions scenario) to $392.3 million in lost output, $66.6 million in lost earnings, and 3,717 lost jobs (high emissions scenario)”. That’s 2-5X’s bigger than Sundance’s annual economic impact to the state of Utah today.

We all want to see Park City remain the beautiful place that drew us here. Yet we can’t afford to be one dimensional in how we look at our problems. If we are, we will waste our valuable resources while solving the wrong problems and ignoring the real issues at hand.

Sheriff’s Office Has an Opportunity to Improve Public Relations

I grew up outside of Kansas City in the 1980’s. The Kansas City police had a tough job as violent crime was beginning to rise to a point where it would eventually become the murder capital of the country. The cops seemed big, tough, and in total control. Yet, we loved running into a policeman at the supermarket or QuikTrip. Why? They always carried Chiefs football trading cards and loved handing them out with a big smile. It was that simple.

Flash forward to today’s Summit County and Park City. When I moved here a few years back, a friend warned me about the police and said you have to be careful. He told me stories that he was often pulled over “because he looked hispanic”. He said his younger friends in high school were continually pulled over for “no reason”. KPCW’s Leslie Thatcher even questioned Sheriff candidate, and current deputy, Justin Martinez about kids getting pulled over for a “dim license plate lights”. While it may not be a common occurrence and may even be overblown, it doesn’t seem to be an isolated incident and it’s definitely in the public’s psyche.

Across the country the reputation and opinion about police forces are taking hits. Whether it’s the situation in Ferguson Missouri, where an unarmed 18-year old was killed by police, or whether it’s the general militarization of the police across the country, police often don’t have the best name anymore.

Even here, in November of 2013, we had our own version of this when the Summit County Sheriff’s office called in Park City Police, the Wasatch Sheriff, and the Utah Highway patrol to break up an underage party. While there is little doubt the party should have been broken up, the show of force seemed way over the top to many community members. A guest editorial in the Park Record compared the tactics used to Storm Troopers. While Sheriff Edmunds and other community members have different opinions on this, the accusations at best do nothing to make the community feel better about our sheriff and police and at worse cement the negative opinion in many people’s minds.

While Sheriff Edmunds has done many good things for our community, the upcoming election offers the chance for a new beginning in the Sheriff office’s interaction with the community. During Justin Martinez’s interview with KPCW he even said that he would like to be able to put his own stamp on things. I’m sure Kris Hendricksen, his opponent, feels the same way.

With that in mind, ditch the black uniforms (they do cause people to be more aggressive and distrust the police). Phase out the Black SUV’s. Think carefully before you decide you need to profile someone. Say hi to everyone. Simply, be more Andy Griffith than Dirty Harry.

A few weeks back, my wife was sitting with our 2 year old in front of the Library. My two year old smiled and stared intently as a sheriff’s deputy walked by. A minute later the deputy walked back by and glanced at my wife and son. He didn’t say a word, he didn’t smile, he just kept walking. Perhaps he was busy and didn’t have time. But if he would have stopped, bent down, and shook my kids hands to introduce himself, my son would still be talking about it today. A little more of that simple, genuine kindness would go a long way to changing impressions.

Not all Summit County Population Forecasts Agree and We Need to Consider That When Making Plans

If you follow the Wasatch Mountain Accord, read about local government meetings, or listen to the radio you probably know that the population of Summit County is estimated to grow by over 143% to 88,000 residents by 2050. Just this morning KPCW’s Leslie Thatcher mentioned it again during an interview with Dave Ure. This 143% number is important because it forms the basis for all sort of regional planning like economic development, transportation management, water management, etc. It has become the defacto statistic relied on by many to make decisions.

Yet, not everyone agrees with that forecast. Since it is so heavily used, it’s important to understand where the number comes from, what it’s based on, and what opposing models show.

In 2012 the Utah Governor’s Office of Management and Budget (GOMB) released reports forecasting population growth through 2050. It shows huge growth for the state overall and Summit County as well. Here are the overall projections:



It makes sense for this report to be used officially, since it came from the Governor’s Office. It also makes sense why people would want to use this report because it justifies growth, development, and spending…which everyone from planners, to builders, to developers like. If huge growth is coming, then something must be done (i.e. planned or built) to solve it.

Yet, The Utah Foundation, an independent public group, and who’s contributors include Rio Tinto, Love Communications, George S. and Dolores Eccles Foundation, Westminster College, and IHC among others indicate that this isn’t the only forecast. They state, “There are various entities that produce population projections – universities, private firms, metropolitan planning organizations, and governments to name a few. The process each firm uses to create projections is unique to the firm. However, the economic climate is a major variable in all of the analyses. Job growth is a leading cause of in-migration and to retain population in Utah and will in turn have an impact on overall population growth.”

With that in mind, let’s look at two different forecasts, the GOMB model and the Regional Economic Models Inc (REMI) model. GOMB predicts by 2040 Utah will have an additional 2 million people. REMI appears to predict an increase of 1.3 million people. In fact, GOMB’s estimates are the highest of any of the models in a recent Utah Foundation report:.


While many would argue that 1.3 million is still significant growth, and it is, it is 35% lower growth than the GOMB estimate. This would indicate Summit County’s population would be at about 69,000 instead of near 90,000 in 2050.

The other different between the two models is the GOMB model shows almost straight-line growth of population based on new births and net migration of people into the state. However, REMI shows a net migration out of the state between 2020 and 2040 (and then a net migration back in after that). In many ways, having a net outflow at some point seems more realistic than constant growth to the moon, as represented in the GOMB analysis.


It is important to know the source of our numbers when making crucial decisions that impact the citizens of Park City and Summit County. While it is likely growth will continue, we should first agree,that we agree, on the baseline assumptions that drive everything else.

The Governor’s numbers are “official” but they are also the highest of any forecast. They have been based on huge net migration and economic growth that has occurred since the Olympics in 2002. They forecast that this will continue unabated. Just like home prices in 2007, this may not be the case.

Note: Unless otherwise specified all graphs used in this post can be found in Utah Foundation report mentioned above.

Transportation Whiteboards and Spreadsheet of Vote Count

Summit County and Park City held a transportation meeting on Tuesday where the public offered input on various concepts to help reduce transportation issues. The public was able to vote on which issues they agreed with (green dots) or disagreed with (red dots). If anyone is interested in what the original whiteboards look like and/or a spreadsheet of the transportation counts, see below..

Click here for vote tally spreadsheet:Vote Tally for Summit Transportation Concepts

Below are the whiteboards:







School District Discussion on Budget and Future

We have been as hard on the Park City School District related to financial matters. They are in a very complex spot that is going to require some out of the box thinking. However, the budget discussion below shows promise. They discuss everything from the impact of Vail, to second homes, to student numbers.

If you are interested in the financial situation of the district, skip to 43:07 in the video for the beginning of an hour long discussion related to the budget: