ANDY BEERMAN, Incumbent
Please describe how your background prepares you for a seat on the Park City Council.
Mark Twain said: ‘A man who carries a cat by the tail learns something he can learn no other way.’ As the sole incumbent seeking re-election, I am the only candidate with direct experience and a proven record. The past 4 years have been educational, exhilarating, maddening, and fun—sometimes all in the same day. I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished, and have never held such a gratifying job. I was active in City affairs prior to serving, yet it took me some time to thoroughly understand the issues, learn to navigate meeting dynamics, and build the skills to be effective. Throughout my term I have immersed myself in the job, volunteered for a dozen plus boards and liaisons, and actively built local and regional relationships. On the job experience makes me the most prepared candidate in this election. Additionally, I am a long time Park City resident, local business owner, and proven civic leader. I would approach a second term with new wisdom, honed skills, and an appreciation for the opportunity.
Many claim traffic has overwhelmed Park City in the years since the worst of the recession, culminating in a terrible traffic jam that stretched through much of the city on a day last December. Please describe what you see as the primary cause of the traffic problems in Park City. Identify one solution you would like implemented for the upcoming ski season and one long-term solution to traffic.
We are a victim of our success: real estate is booming, our resorts are expanding, and Park City has become a hotbed for events. This means more people, more cars, and more traffic that negatively impacts the livability of our community. I’ve long advocated that to preserve our community character, we must build a system less dependent upon cars. Park City wisely established our bus system in 1977 and it now serves 2 million riders annually. However, as we grow and evolve, so must our tools. Tomorrow’s Park City will require a web of connectivity. Trails and walkability will be critical; so will gondolas, funiculars, and other people-movers to connect our resorts to our commercial cores. Express and rapid bus will help meet our immediate regional needs, and must connect to the airport. Throw in some techno solutions such as an Uber-like van system, electric vehicles/bikes, responsive traffic sensors, and we begin to form a system to that is no longer car-centric. An immediate solution would be to work with our lodging/resort partners to incentivize their guests to not bring cars (I know from personal experience this works). Long term, we need the web of connectivity I mentioned above.
Design issues continue to be divisive in Old Town as City Hall weighs historic preservation against property owners’ wishes to redo and expand their places. Please rate the municipal government’s oversight of building designs in Old Town. Would you like the restrictions kept as is, loosened or tightened and why?
Old Town and Main Street are the ‘heart and soul’ of Park City and it is essential we preserve our historic character. Over the past two decades I have watched building restrictions pendulum between more strict and more permissive, with critics on both sides. We are currently in a ‘refinement’ stage as the recent building boom has revealed some weaknesses in our policies. In response, the City Council has directed staff to expand historic definitions, create additional oversight for demolitions, increase historic grants, develop a plan for our mining structures, and expand the role of the Historic Preservation Board (HPB). I am supportive of all these efforts. Ultimately, the goal should be to maintain appropriate character, scale, and historic integrity without violating property rights and allowing for livable homes. This is high priority for Council because we must be very, very careful since most mistakes are unrecoverable.
Bonanza Park, for years envisioned as an up-and-coming district, has enjoyed only moderate success as competing interests tangled about the district’s future. What is your vision for Bonanza Park? Please discuss what you see as City Hall’s role and the private sector’s role in striving toward that vision. What do you see as the primary planning and development challenge in Bonanza Park?
Park City has little land left, so our future growth challenges will come as infill or redevelopment. Bonanza Park (BoPa) is 99 acres located between our entry corridors and contains 1.2 million SF of commercial/residential property. Under current zoning, it could grow to 4-5 million. Due to its central location, and potential for large scale development, the City has tried to work with the property owners to encourage thoughtful redevelopment of BoPa and to foster a vibrant locals’ place to complement our historic downtown and retain local business. Our General Plan proposes the principles of mixed use, mixed-housing, shared open space and walkability for this area. Unfortunately, the City has not yet reached consensus with the many property owners on appropriate planning tools to implement that vision. Our primary challenge will be developing a collaborative approach to this project in spite of strong economic headwinds pushing it toward piecemeal development.
City Hall has enjoyed a series of successes over the years in its work force or otherwise affordable housing programs, but Park City remains a difficult housing market for many. Should the municipal government continue to play an aggressive role in housing issues? If so, please identify one location where you would support a housing project that has not already been considered and describe what sort of project you envision? If not, please discuss why City Hall should scale back its efforts.
There can be a lot of debate over government’s role, but I have a simple adage: ‘Government exists to do what the free market can’t or won’t.’ Mountain towns like Park City all share the same challenge, a desire to maintain a diverse authentic community, against the economic forces of scarcity and high demand. Additionally, we need a robust workforce to sustain our economy. For these reasons, it is in Park City’s best interest to facilitate affordable housing. We need these accommodations to: 1) keep our community diverse and youthful; 2) to attract workers that power our economy; and 3) to reduce commuter traffic. Ideally, most of the housing would be within City limits so that residents could walk/bike/ski/skate to their jobs. However, we are also fortunate to have less expensive choices nearby which could be connected with better transit options. In addition to housing, we need to consider other affordability issues like transportation, child care, and the creation of better paying jobs. As far as new locations, I was excited to participate in the recent acquisition of the Sommer parcel near the Rail Trail for a combo project of open space and affordable housing.
Park City leaders want to diversify the economy from one that is heavily reliant on tourism and tourism-related industries such as construction. Please discuss what you see as the benefits of a diversified economy in place so dominated by one industry. Please outline one economic development initiative that you would propose during the next City Council term and how that jibes with Park City’s current economic mix.
Park City has thrived because of our amazing mountain setting, world class recreation, easy access, and town character which make us a desirable place to live/work/play. However, much of our success has been one-dimensional, tied directly to our resorts and vacation homes. As a mountain destination, we are fortunate to have a recreation product that is largely sustainable and also available to our residents. However, a resort-based economy has its pitfalls, low paying service jobs, susceptibility to weather, and reliance upon discretionary spending. Our path to economic health is: 1) preserve our natural environment—it’s the main reason why people come here, for work or play; 2) preserve our historic character—it keeps us unique and drives tourism; 3) diversify our economy by incubating and attracting multi-seasonal businesses that create jobs with livable wages. Additionally, Park City needs to better support its local businesses which keep us authentic and help maintain our middle class. As a member of the City’s economic task force, I’ve helped define our current recruitment targets: small outdoor-related companies (i.e. Soul Poles, AvaTech) and high altitude training, because they are low impact, add diversity, complement our brand, and support our resilience goals.
The Park City Planning Department, critical to many of City Hall’s long-term goals, has experienced a series of staff departures since the most recent municipal election, held in 2013. Please discuss whether the performance of the Planning Department has met the standard you expect from such an important section of the municipal government. If so, please cite an example. If not, please describe one change you want implemented.
Park City’s planning department faces a difficult task, to stand up for our town character in the face of great development pressure and permissive State laws. Our planners have the unpopular role of interpreting and enforcing the policies the town has painstakingly crafted. Park City has been fortunate to have some outstanding planners and continues to attract high caliber employees. High caliber employees also tend to be ambitious and mobile. Despite losing some experienced planners, we have maintained many of our core staff and strengthen our management structure. The recent hire of long-time planning veteran Bruce Erickson as our Planning Director will fortify that department. In his short tenure, we have already seen many improvements. Additionally, the creation of a Community Development Director—a position I lobbied for—will better integrate Building, Planning and Engineering, three departments that must work closely together. If I could change one thing, I would make it easier for ordinary citizens and small businesses to navigate the planning process. Overall, I am encouraged that recent changes have the Planning Department headed in a positive direction. (180 WORDS)
It has been a little more than a year since Colorado-based Vail Resorts acquired Park City Mountain Resort with plans to link the property with Canyons Resort to create the largest mountain resort in the United States. Please discuss your opinion of Vail Resorts as a corporate citizen that operates in Park City. Please describe one positive impression you have of Vail Resorts and one negative one.
I look forward to building our relationship with Vail. It’s important to note that Vail Resorts chose Park City, not the other way around. They came to Park City because they wanted to be a part of our success. They have done exactly what they said they would: unify and open two resorts in time for winter (2014), invest in resort infrastructure, use their marketing might to promote our town, and support many local charities. Yes they are big; yes they are corporate; and yes they have an ‘A team’ for their negotiations. They will be demanding, consistent, and calculated in their requests—not necessarily bad traits in a partner. Vail will challenge us to up our game as a community. We will need to plan better, be strategic, work closely with Summit County, and form our own ‘A-team’ to represent our community. We grew up with our family-owned resorts, so it’s been difficult to say goodbye to one. However, through a good balance of caution and optimism, we can build a new relationship with Vail which could make us all stronger. We’re in this together, so let’s do what we do best in America’s friendliest city: make new friends.
Broad issues like growth and traffic extend well outside the Park City limits, where other jurisdictions like Summit County and Wasatch County hold decision-making power. Please discuss the relationship you see City Hall as having with the outside governments. Please outline your opinion of the effectiveness of Summit County and Wasatch County as they plan for growth.
Utah’s population is expected to double by 2030, and Park City is increasingly feeling the pressures of regional growth. We are fortunate that past leaders had the vision to acquire an open space buffer to limit sprawl and to define our boundaries, but this alone will not mitigate the pressures of traffic, sprawl, and over-use. It is critical Park City work with our regional partners and be part of their planning. I have been a steadfast advocate for building stronger regional ties, and the current Council has made this a priority. Both elected officials and staff are meeting regularly with our neighbors and working on issues like traffic, water, growth, transportation, recreation, the environment, and affordable housing. As a Council member, I have been particularity active in building regional relationships through my participation in the Mountain Accord, as a Board member of the Utah League of Cities and Towns, and a member of several City/County task forces. Park City is very proud of our tight community, but in the face of growing external pressures, we must build bridges, help our neighbors and be a good partner in regional efforts.
Please differentiate yourself from your opponents.
Winston Churchill once said, ‘I like a man who grins when he fights.’ I often get characterized as a ‘nice guy,’ which is true. I was raised with Midwestern manners and was taught to be patient and attentive, even when disagreeing. I have a knack for building consensus, which I credit to these traits, along with an abundance of optimism and endurance for problem-solving. But being nice is not my only tool. Along with my smile, comes grit and a willingness to stand up for the things that matter. As a new Councilmember I drew a firm line against sprawl (like the Film Studio) despite strong pressure. Throughout my term, I have been dogged in my support for the environment, open space, renewable energy, bag bans, idling restrictions, and water conservation. I am an ardent proponent of transportation solutions, and have proposed new approaches. I began my term committed to improving our regional relationships, and did so by getting involved on regional level. As a Councilman I’ve grown a deeper understanding of our town and residents. If you vote for me, it won’t be based on potential, I already have a track record as committed, collaborative, and able to maneuver the public process someone that gets things done. If we want to keep Park City great, we need leaders that can listen to residents, distill what most important to them, and stand up for it. If given a second term I will do exactly that.
A critic of a Park City workforce or otherwise affordable housing project in Old Town said he is considering an appeal of the Park City Planning Commission’s approval of the development.