Candidates discuss land with Realtors
October 17, 2008
Candidates told jokes, got emotional and recited resumes Thursday morning at the Park City Board of Realtors candidate forum until Steve Chin said what everybody else was thinking.
What will the candidates do for the economy?
Chin asked the question during a Q-and-A session during the 90-minute breakfast at Newpark Hotel.
The candidates spoke to issues raised by the board such as water availability, affordable housing, transportation plans and clean energy, as well as issues of their own such as government transparency and East Side development.
Rep. Christine Johnson, D-Salt Lake City, over Snyderville Basin, said she understood what homesellers are feeling.
"I’m an agent," she said. "I have properties that are not moving at all, they’re in limbo."
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The thing government could do to best help Summit County’s economy would be to keep tourism funding coming, despite the shrinking budgets, she said.
The state has allocated more money to attract film business, she said, but every dollar spent on attracting tourists brings a large return on the investment.
David Ure, Republican candidate for County Council Seat E, expressed anger about the current zoning rules that are restricting how East Side residents use their land and favor development over agriculture preservation.
The people on the East Side are not being listened to, he said.
"I want to make sure you’re not locked out of public input," he said. "I’ve seen councils that hide behind county managers the buck stops here."
Rep. Mel Brown, R-Coalville, and Chris Robinson, Democratic candidate for County Council Seat D, expressed similar sentiments, saying government needs to interfere less in the East Side.
"We need to allow people to choose their own industry with their land," Brown said.
Robinson said the East Side is going to be where the growth is in the future and that it needs to be able to "define itself."
As a real estate developer himself, Robinson said tourism is what improves real estate in the area, he explained.
Ure became emotional, complaining how elderly residents aren’t allowed by the county code to deed lots to their family for homes without deeding the rest to the county for open space.
Transportation was a major issue at the forum as well, with the congestion on key arteries like S.R. 224 and 248.
Sally Elliott, Democratic candidate for Seat A, spoke on the need to plan well for the future, even 20 years ahead, in implementing mass transit.
Most candidates agreed that multiple solutions were going to be needed.
Johnson pointed out the necessity of residents committing to plans like extended bus routes and park-and-ride lots in order to see a difference.
Alison Pitt, Republican candidate for Seat D, expressed her own frustration with the slow and inconvenient routes of Park City Transit, saying it must be improved before more residents will ride buses.
The early afternoon meetings of the current County Commission was a sore point for many candidates, with many pledging evening schedules, better stated agendas and fewer closed-door sessions.
Sam Aplanalp, a Realtor in Oakley with Discovery Properties, said the forum addressed many of his concerns, including those of the new form of county government.
"We’re adding more government, more bureaucracy and more layers," he said.
He said he is concerned about property rights on the East Side, and called the traffic on S.R. 248 that his wife endures daily to teach at Treasure Mountain International Middle School, "ridiculous, horrible."
Eric Miller, with Turnbury Mortgage and a green-building consultant, said he too is concerned about the ability of East Side residents to develop land as they see fit and wants to see building codes that make sense.
Miller, Aplanalp and Maria Johnson with Red Ledges all expressed a desire to see a County Council that works well as a team and cooperates in finding solutions that work for everyone in the county.
"I want to see planning and cooperation that puts the needs of the people first," she said.
Blanca Gohary with Windermere Real Estate said she prides herself on being an educated voter but learned a lot at the forum about issues she wasn’t aware of. She said the economy is her top voting issue as a small business owner in Park City.