Please describe how your background prepares you for a seat on the Park City Council.
My background has uniquely prepared me to serve this community. Personally, I’ve grown up with the town and have experienced many of our town’s highs (the Olympics) and lows (the recession) over the past 26 years first hand. I’ve been using City facilities for play and, later, work, since I was nine years old. My circle of friends and family here includes people I’ve known since I was a child, friends of my parents, the families I’ve worked with, my co-workers at the resorts and so many others. I am connected to the heart and soul of this community and have a deep understanding of who we are. Professionally, I’ve worked and volunteered for many of our non-profits in town over the years. I am currently employed as the Director of Marketing for a local ski and snowboard shop and through my work I am a member of the Park City Area Lodging Association, the Park City Chamber, Ski Utah and the Historic Park City Alliance. I am currently serving as the President of the Board of the Historic Park City Alliance, on the Park City Recreation Advisory Board, and as the VP of Public Relations for Park City Toastmasters. I was a member of Leadership Class 20 and I have managed to attend almost every City Council meeting, as well as a multitude of public forums, for over a year.
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.
The former transportation director, Kent Cashel, often cautioned that there is not one solution to our traffic and congestion problems. Park City is a tourist destination that has old roads, is located in a narrow valley, and has multiple large-scale employers, requiring thousands of employees, in the heart of our small town. For this season, I would work with the travel industry, the Park City Lodging Association, Ski Utah and the Park City Chamber to create marketing messaging about how easy it is to get around in Park City without a car. We’ve trained the crowd that comes during Sundance to ride the bus—we should expand on that messaging. In the long run, we need to make it possible for more of our workforce to get to work without a car. We can do this by creating opportunities for people to live closer to their work. An additional transit center close to the intersection of Park Avenue and Kearns would also allow the City to create express routes in and out of town and up to Old Town, expediting our bus routes.
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?
I remember driving around when I was in High School looking at the cute, little miners’ shacks with a friend, plotting and planning where we would live when we grew up. Now many of those "cute, little" shacks are a part of huge, multi-million-dollar homes. While aesthetically pleasing under today’s design standards, they have lost their charm and are priced far above anything I could have imagined. We need to be aware of and respect peoples’ property rights, but it is just as important to be aware of and respect our heritage and history. I am in favor of tightening restrictions in regards to the scale and mass of buildings in Old Town. People buying property in our Historic District should be required to enhance and work with the footprint and design of the historic home, understanding that the historic character is what will make their property valuable in the long term.
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?
The Bonanza Park area could be the saving grace for our town. Many people are afraid of development in Park City, but this part of town was poorly planned, the buildings are quickly becoming dated and there are large areas that are severely underutilized. There is great potential for meeting many of our community’s needs in the redevelopment of this parcel, such as affordable housing, childcare facilities and spaces suitable for small, local businesses to incubate. With its proximity to the resorts, schools and Main Street, there is a real opportunity to create a smart development plan that will enable residents of this area and nearby areas to get by largely without a car. The City needs to collaborate closely with property owners and consider helping with costs of soil mitigation and the creation of public underground parking opportunities, which I see as being the area’s biggest development challenges. If the City does not step in, there is real danger that this area will turn into another multi-million-dollar condominium development and sit dark most of the year. It would be tragic to let that occur.
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.
The City has enjoyed some successes over the years. I have good friends that live in both the Line Condos and the Snowcreek Cottages, but as a community, we have not done nearly enough. I believe the City needs to be far more aggressive in its housing program. Breckenridge has over 800 affordable units in town and attributes $15 million in annual local spending and over 100,000 vehicular miles removed from their roads annually to their affordable housing residents. I would like the City to survey City-owned land and highlight areas that could be possible locations for housing, much like it did with the lower Park Ave redevelopment project. If this process was emulated with the whole town, it’s highly likely that we could come up with many opportunities at different density levels. I would also like the City to investigate what land is available for purchase. As property values have risen, many seasonal rentals have been converted to nightly rentals. It would be a great benefit to our business owners to create workforce rentals so our workforce can save for future home purchases.
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 a tourism-based economy and we have no shortage of job opportunities, including middle class job opportunities, but we have no place for much of our workforce, middle class or otherwise, to live in town. If we tried to force economic diversification in Park City right now, we would only increase pressures on our already depleted housing situation. It does make sense for us to increase and diversify our summer, spring and fall activity offerings so we can support our businesses year-round. We are already doing a wonderful job with mountain biking and hiking and outdoor adventure sports. If we want a diverse economy in Park City we should create some stability for our current middle class and provide ways to keep a young and innovative population in town that will develop small businesses in line with our culture and the needs of the community.
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.
As the current Planning Director Bruce Erickson recently explained to me, Park City is like a house and it’s the planning department’s job to take care of the house, make sure it has everything its inhabitants need, and ensure that everything functions as it should. Our planning department is faced with the difficult task of preserving both community values, such as historic preservation and preservation of community spaces, and community needs like housing and traffic mitigation and property owner rights. It is a shame that the 205 Main Street project slipped through the cracks. Rather than storefronts and shops, there is now a garage door and split-level condominium entrances, isolating Grappa on the end of the street. However, because of this development, the Historic Park City Business Alliance, the City Council and the planning department have been working closely together to amend the Planning Code to make sure that our Main Street stays vibrant and projects that don’t fit in our "house" don’t make it through planning.
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.
There is no doubt that Vail coming to town will have a great effect on our community. Their investment in the now-named Park City Resort was sorely needed. The new chairs, gondolas and dining areas will improve the on-mountain experience for residents and visitors alike. They will bring more people, who have money to spend. My greatest fear is that Vail homogenizes the town of Park City by starving or buying out many of our locally-owned businesses, leaving us with primarily Vail-operated store fronts. Vail’s business model is vertically-integrated, they control their guest’s experience from start to finish. Vail does not allow anyone else to sell their tickets, owns many shops under different names, can choose to contract with only certain hotels and transportation companies, and will refer guests to restaurants on their properties. operating this way, Vail can control pricing and works with a select few. It will be difficult for anyone left outside of this circle to continue to do business as usual in town, and rising rents will be prohibitive to new businesses. High tides raise all ships, but won’t guarantee there is enough room in the harbor.
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.
It is of upmost importance the we continue to build an effective relationship with our neighboring counties, as we will share issues of growth, traffic congestion, water rights, air quality and climate change. There are broad differences between the interests of Park City and those of the counties. County growth means more property taxes going to their schools and greater opportunities for them as a community. It’s important that we listen and understand the needs of our neighbors as we try to work with them. There are so many different needs between the East and West side of Summit County, and there are years of resentment for which to account. We must, as a City and a community, be humble and work with Summit County and Wasatch County, and be a partner to them as we all strive to find a balance and compromise.
Please differentiate yourself from your opponents.
I bring different perspectives to the table. I bring the perspective of someone who grew up in town and has watched the town evolve and grow. I bring the perspective of a Park City High School grad. I bring the perspective of the workforce, as I spent my twenties holding down many jobs—between working at the resorts in the winter and taking whatever work I could find in the summer—to make ends meet. I bring the perspective of the ski industry and of the locally-owned small business on Main Street from my work with Aloha Ski and Board and my involvement on the Historic Park City Alliance. And I bring the perspective of someone who now has a middle class job, is involved in the community and is working as hard as she can to stay in—and give back to—the town that raised her. I hope to have the opportunity to try to start a family of my own here. I am a bright and capable young person. I have spent the last few years doing everything I can to learn as much as possible about how the City works and reaching out to everyone who could teach me. I bring my lifetime of experience in this town, my passion, my guts and my heart to the table. I work hard, play hard, and I am a true reflection of what this community is capable of.
Rachelle Flinn hopes to expand access to family planning and women’s health care, among other policy upgrades, as she takes the reins of the People’s Health Clinic.