Letters to the Editor
July 15, 2009
I was pleased to read the opinion in The Park Record Wednesday, July 8, concerning the need for regulation of property managers. I was stunned to read Bill Malone’s (Park City Chamber/Bureau) response in the Saturday, July 11, edition.
As an owner of a rental property in Park City since 1995, and as an owner who has not been paid my 2009 rental revenue, I can attest to the need for escrowed accounts for owners’ rental revenues. While many property-management companies have risen to the occasion and have offered escrowed accounts, these actions do not override the need for legislated regulation.
Malone states that it is "amazing how the free market works." Yes, the response to this problem by a few companies is commendable; however, it is because of deregulation of nightly rentals that this situation arose in the first place. Isn’t it better to be proactive than reactive? Regulating the situation prior to owners’ losing millions of dollars would have been the correct stance. The poor business models based on "robbing Peter to pay Paul" in an unregulated free market led to the misappropriation of owners’ rental revenues.
Legislating escrowed accounts for owners’ rental revenues is not intrusive government regulation, as asserted by Bill Malone. It is a safeguard against greed and misappropriation of collected funds which do NOT belong to property managers. Having lived in Delaware for most of my life and having had rental properties, I was appalled to discover that Utah had abandoned the practice of protecting nightly rentals ten years ago because of lobbying efforts of property managers. Delaware is by far one of the most "business friendly" states in the Union and its second-most-profitable business is tourism. Rental revenue is remanded to escrowed accounts by law, and has not had a detrimental effect on the rental business.
On the other hand, the reality of the situation in Park City with regard to millions of dollars not being paid to owners has a negative impact on the tourism/rental business. It also has a negative impact on property value. Who wants to buy a condo today with a history of nonpayment of rental revenue? Who wants to send a deposit for a unit not knowing if that deposit will be dispersed to its proper recipient and therefore be available during the ski season?
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Park City depends on its tourist industry. It depends on those owners who rent their units to the public. For a Chamber representative to state that the owners do not need legislative protection is incomprehensible.
Senator VanTassell has taken on this problem. He responded within hours to my voice message. Owners affected by this current situation can contact his office with their concerns. The senator can be reached by fax (435-789-8411), by phone (435-789-7082), or by email: firstname.lastname@example.org .
‘Fair Boundaries’ is nonpartisan
We appreciate The Park Record sending a reporter to the public hearing on redistricting reform Monday night (July 6). (However), the reporter’s article makes a misleading assumption that the Fair Boundaries initiative is an outgrowth of the Summit County Democratic Party.
The initiative was drafted by a Republican from North Salt Lake and boasts coalition members from all over the state and from all parties: Republican, Democrat, third party or no party affiliation at all. On our website, http://www.fairboundaries.org , you will find a list of endorsements from around the state that support bringing neutrality and transparency to current the process. Summit is not the only county in Utah that was gerrymandered after the last census.
Members of all parties have been disenfranchised by gerrymandering, including Republicans who have been marginalized within their own party from challenging incumbents. Voters, in general, are the biggest losers they lose accountability from representatives who have carved safe districts and are more beholden to their peers in office than their own constituents. Former President Ronald Reagan warned Americans back in 1989 about the conflict of interest elected officials have when they draw their own districts.
We believe voters should select their legislators, not the other way around. Our intention is to keep more of Utah’s communities intact in the upcoming redistricting, and to make sure districts make sense. You can support this effort by signing the Fair Boundaries petition (coming in mid-July) and voting for a "Utah Redistricting Standards Commission" on Election Day in 2010.
Tania Knauer Park City
Malone letter is way off the mark
I am writing this letter in response to the letter written by Bill Malone regarding his opinion on lodging regulation in Utah. I believe the letter is way off the mark and it is troubling that the Chamber of Commerce could adopt such a position.
I am one of the individuals that approached Senator Van Tassel to urge that there be anti-comingling laws enacted in the State of Utah. This is not a burdensome regulation and is common practice in most other states in the nation. The concept is simple: property managers are not allowed to spend money that is not theirs. Not too difficult a concept to grasp.
I have spent the last three months unwinding an HOA’s collapse that was the result of "self regulation." In my small corner of town there are dozens of furious owners owed hundreds of thousands of dollars and 11 wage-earning employees that have endured an enormous amount of anxiety as a result of "self-regulation."
The last time I counted, there have been four lodging company implosions in the last 10 years, not two. They were Jupiter, High Mountain, Premier and David Holland. In every one of these cases the managers took advantage of a lack of comingling laws in Utah (and, incidentally, Utah is one of nine states that allows this practice) to utilize money that belonged to someone else to spend as they saw fit. In every one of these cases, individuals were not paid money that was rightfully theirs. This is outrageous and an egregious abuse of fiduciary trust. Self-regulation is NOT working. I will agree that a majority of property-management companies in town are trustworthy and have never missed a payment and I applaud their self-regulation. However, the system as it exists allows companies to abuse that system. The result is unemployed people, unpaid homeowners and a general consensus that everyone was conned good and proper.
I continue to urge Senator Van Tassel to enact legislation that will not allow comingling of rental funds to protect individuals from these outrageous abuses of the system in the future.
Gerrymandering puts democracy at risk
In his recent article on the Fair Boundaries public hearing, Patrick Parkinson got it wrong. He portrayed Fair Boundaries as a partisan issue. It is not. Furthermore, it is not just about trying to get representation for the Park City area in the Utah legislature.
It is about correcting a serious flaw in our system of governance. Fair Boundaries is about creating a way to guide the redistricting process to give all voters the best legislative representation possible.
Like all states, the Utah constitution assigns the necessary task of rebalancing the population of legislative districts after the census to currently sitting legislators. The problem is that they have no guidance on how to do it.
In the absence of legal guidelines, the temptation to create advantage for themselves in upcoming reelections consistently overrides the responsibility to guard and strengthen principles of representative government. As a result, the practice of creating irrational collections of unrelated voters for the sole purpose of enhancing the political advantage of the majority party has occurred routinely, to some extent, in every state since the early 1800s. Both parties are equally guilty. The Utah legislature took this process to a disgraceful extreme in 2001.
Utah’s Fair Boundaries petition is one of several similar efforts being launched in states where partisan redistricting has become abusive. It proposes a thoughtfully constructed way for the voters to push back and counterbalance this very flawed process. If approved it will force the process into the open forum of public debate, and create a standard to judge the result by.
In the redistricting process ten years ago, Park City’s unique voice and interests got deliberately divided and lost among those of neighboring rural areas, and urban Salt Lake. The same happened to Tooele and several other communities. It will happen again without passage of Fair Boundaries. This public referendum needs to get on the 2010 ballot.
Please take the time to understand this proposal and the issue it seeks to correct. When you see a petition, sign it. If we do nothing to counter the abuses of this shameful closed-door practice, it is not just Democrats but democracy itself that suffers.
A home tour for the ages
A hearty thank you to everyone who supported this year’s Historic Home Tour. Eighteen historic homes and buildings were opened to the public on June 27 during our 13th annual Historic Home Tour and the event proved more popular than ever!
We would like to thank our extraordinary sponsors. The success of this event is the result of their generous support. A special thanks to the Washington School Inn and Zoom Restaurant for hosting our receptions, and to all the locals and businesses that sponsored a historic house.
A big thank you to everyone who gave so generously of their time and talents to make this year’s tour and history weekend memorable: Park City’s finest chefs; the home owners who generously opened their homes both on Friday night and Saturday; our more than 80 volunteers who helped make the event go smoothly; local businesses that supported the silent auction; those who attended a dinner or walked the tour; and the committee of diligent volunteers who organized the weekend’s events.
The Park City Museum is dedicated to preserving, protecting and promoting Park City’s history and heritage. Thanks for a successful event that will help us reach our goals!
The Grand Opening of the Park City Museum is scheduled for October 16. If you would like to learn more about our renovation and expansion and how you can help, please contact us at 435-649-7457.
Park City Museum
They worked so everyone could play
The Park City Ambassadors would like to thank all of the wonderful volunteers and sponsors who helped make the July 4th 2009 Parade and City Park activities a success. We could not have carried out the day’s complex events without your help and contributions. We would also like to thank Park City Municipal for their tireless efforts. The weather was perfect, the crowd was engaged and well behaved, and the entertainment was enjoyed by all. The Park City Ambassadors looks forward to July 4th 2010!
Chairs for the July 4th parade and City Park activities, Park City Ambassadors
American Bake Sale was great start
I would like to thank everyone who helped make our first Great American Bake Sale a great success. Friends, restaurants, caterers, and the private chefs who contributed, we thank you all! It was a great start to the Fourth of July weekend and we will hopefully do it again next year. I know everyone who purchased the baked items experienced some wonderful treats.