Please describe how your background prepares you for a seat on the Park City Council.
I have lived full-time in Old Town since 2008 when my husband and I renovated our historic house on Park Avenue. I am an active participant in City Council and Planning Commission meetings and have attended over 75 city meetings on issues that affect our neighborhoods and the quality of all of our lives. I currently serve on the City’s Historic Preservation Board. In addition to my activities with City government, I am an active volunteer and supporter of several of our community non-profit organizations. I understand the importance of our non-profit organizations to the quality of life we all enjoy. I have discussed the issues facing our community with many of our citizens. As an active citizen, I recognize how important it is for our Council to listen to its citizens. My working career was in engineering and law. I have a Chemical Engineering degree from Purdue University and worked as an engineer for two of the largest corporations in the world. I have a law degree from the University of Southern California and practiced patent law litigation in federal district and appeal courts for 20 years. When I retired I was a partner with an international law firm of over 1,000 attorneys. All of this real world experience allows me to view the important issues facing our community with an engineer’s eye for detail and an attorney’s eye for cutting to the heart of the matter. I will be a strong advocate for the public.
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.
There is likely no one answer or grand overall solution to our traffic issues. But there are many opportunities for incremental solutions that can be implemented in the near term. Our own citizens who experience and deal with our traffic problems on a daily basis often have some of the best suggestions. While visitors certainly account for a portion of the congestion, a major cause of the traffic is internal circulation due to our use of personal vehicles. Obviously, this becomes a particular problem during peak periods in the ski season. One incremental near-term solution for the upcoming ski season is for our resorts to implement a program of monitoring parking lot capacity and communicating that information to their guests. If guests accurately knew the parking status in advance, it would reduce internal traffic circulation around the parking lots and adjoining streets. A longer-term solution for traffic congestion during the ski season is for the City to partner with the resorts to develop remote parking lots with express public transportation to the resort base areas. Ideally, such parking lots would have day lodge-type buildings for gear storage, information, restrooms, and possibly refreshments.
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?
The historic character of Old Town is one of our economic drivers. That is confirmed by visitor comments and also by the marketing efforts of our Chamber and local businesses that promote our authentic character and heritage. Our historic character is one of the "core values" in our General Plan that our citizens said define our Community. Parts of Old Town are a National Historic District, and there are certain design standards that are required for that status. There are a finite number of historic structures remaining. Loss of any of these structures diminishes our historic district and is a permanent loss. Construction of new structures that are incompatible in look, feel, and scale further diminishes our historic district and is contrary to best practices. Allowing renovation and repurposing of historic structures is critical to their continued use and viability. In the past several years our City’s codes and guidelines have been more liberally applied resulting in more incompatible structures and more renovations in which the historic elements are lost. Recently there has been recognition that we are in danger of losing too much of our historic character and actions are being taken to remedy this, which I support.
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 "form-based code" that was proposed for the Bonanza Park area was done without consulting many of the property owners and existing residents. The Bonanza Park area is not the type of distressed area where such a planning tool is usually directed. The proposal would have allowed taller buildings placed very close to major roadways and significantly increased allowable square footage in that neighborhood. It would likely have put existing businesses and residential properties out of zoning compliance in favor of new and costlier developments. It seems that the extensive amount of effort expended in this now-abandoned planning process could have been better spent elsewhere. This area can be redeveloped by its current and future property owners in a gradual, incremental, organic build-out under existing codes and ordinances, consistent with our City’s core values of small town character and natural setting. This alternative allows adaptive reuse of existing buildings and flexibility in site plan design to best utilize the properties in this area in a manner consistent with our community values and what makes sense to the area’s residents and property owners.
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 is no single solution to our affordable housing issues. Housing needs are really dependent on the individual situation and range from the needs of seasonal workers to apartments for year-round workers to family homes. We must clearly identify the market segment(s) we are focusing our efforts on and have a clear objective before committing public funds. One housing location worthy of further analysis that has not been seriously considered is the existing housing stock in our City. Rather than searching for "grass roots" locations for affordable housing, why not look at using existing building stock? There are many single family homes and apartments in Old Town which could be renovated or repurposed to meet many affordable housing needs. This could be accomplished through a variety of public/private partnership options. This approach would have the advantages of adding vibrancy to Old Town; retaining open space; providing excellent access to our bus system as well as to major employers such as the resorts, PC Municipal and PC School District; and reducing our overall carbon footprint when compared to building new grass roots structures.
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.
Our Park City economy is a resort-based economy. We are a mountain town in a great natural setting with wonderful world-class local ski areas. If we were a diversified economy, we would be a very different place. Our resort-based economy means that we have a slower shoulder season, which provides a time to relax and cherish our small town without the traffic and frenzy we experience during the more robust winter and summer tourist seasons. Many Parkites already feel that we are being overwhelmed by too many events. Any new economic development initiatives need to take into consideration our General Plan core values of small town character, natural setting, sense of community, and historic character. Our City needs to have contingency plans for the inevitable downturns in the economy. However, our City experienced a record increase in revenues last year, so we can be very selective about attracting new industry. A larger economy with more jobs may sound good but certainly would also bring more housing demands, more traffic, more congestion, and more negative impacts on our quality of life and our desirability as a premier destination resort.
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.
I am pleased with the recent hiring of a Community Development Director and the retention of Bruce Erickson as Planning Director. These organizational changes will add more resources where they are needed. Bruce has an extensive background in Park City planning issues and provides much needed experience and local perspective to the planning process. Greater planning diligence is needed if we are going to "Keep Park City, Park City", which includes retaining our historic character and preventing loss of historic structures. It also includes no more mistakes like the discretionary approval of a new condominium project with a garage wall fronting on Main Street (instead of retail shops) that unfortunately will permanently diminish the vibrancy of that part of Main Street. Growth and change will happen, but we must ensure that it is thoughtful and compatible with our small town character and uniqueness and does not overwhelm our natural setting.
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 think it is still too early to form an opinion of Vail Resorts as a corporate citizen in Park City. I realize that Vail has generously provided funding to some of our non-profit organizations through the EpicPromise program. Those contributions are much appreciated and Vail should be recognized for these contributions. Vail has also heavily invested in its business interests in the area. As a result, Vail has many community issues that need to be addressed. These include assisting with housing for their seasonal workers, partnering with the City and County in mitigating traffic and parking problems, doing their part to reduce carbon footprint, and satisfying their obligations with regard to dealing with the preservation of historic mining structures within the resort boundaries. Vail has adopted the Park City name for the new combined resort because of the strong value of the Park City brand. This causes some unnecessary confusion. I am optimistic that going forward Vail will be a true partner with the City in mutually beneficial efforts which are consistent with our citizens’ Core Values and maintain Park City as a real town and a wonderful place to live and visit.
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.
Comprehensive solutions to some critical issues before our community cannot be advanced without collaboration with governments and agencies outside our borders. We are highly impacted by population growth in neighboring communities even if we have zero population growth within our borders. High priority issues such as transportation, affordable housing and the reduction of our carbon footprint extend way beyond our borders. Summit County and Wasatch County may have differing views from Park City on how to address these critical issues. Government simply reflects the views of the majority of its citizens that is the way democracy is supposed to work. Park City has to be practical about these differences in viewpoints and work to find areas where interests are aligned. Park City’s elected officials and staff regularly meet with their counterparts in the neighboring counties to coordinate policy on issues that overlap our borders. I fully support this collaboration and would encourage more efforts to work with our neighbors to find practical solutions to our mutual challenges.
Please differentiate yourself from your opponents.
All the candidates are similar in that they care passionately about Park City. While we agree on many issues we all do have different points of view. I have lived in Park City since 2008. That probably still qualifies me for membership in the "Newcomer’s Club" by Park City standards. Some of my opponents may cite that they have lived in Park City a long time as a reason to vote for them. While longevity in the community does give one perspective it can also hamper objectivity. When a corporation is hiring new management they frequently go outside of the organization or industry to find a candidate. They do this to get a fresh perspective and that is exactly what I can provide to Park City Council. As a citizen active in City government, I recognize and appreciate how important it is for our Council to listen to its citizens. Furthermore, I can distinguish myself in that I am the only truly independent citizen candidate. I am retired and have no commercial interests or career conflicts. I can think of no issues that would come before City Council for which I would need to recuse myself. Finally, I am the only candidate with technical and legal training and expertise. The issues that come before City Council become more complex every year. My background and skills will help me to effectively serve you as your elected representative.
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.