Park City Council candidates offer disparate views on difficult topic of housing
Election forum highlights an issue that has challenged City Hall leaders for decades
Note: A video recording of the forum is available here.
The three Park City Council candidates on Monday evening covered numerous issues during a candidate forum, including offering disparate answers as they addressed the crucial topic of housing at a time when affordability is increasingly difficult for rank-and-file workers and others like senior citizens.
Incumbent City Councilor Tim Henney is seeking a third term in office while Tana Toly, whose family owns Red Banjo Pizza, and business strategy and technology consultant Jeremy Rubell are challenging. There are two City Council seats on the ballot.
Housing has for years been one of the crux issues in the community, and the current Park City government sees itself as especially aggressive regarding the topic. There are long-running concerns that Park City’s resort-driven real estate market prices out many members of the workforce, leading to increased commuter traffic and reduced socioeconomic diversity.
The three candidates each briefly discussed housing during a forum that was held at the Santy Auditorium at the Park City Library and hosted by The Park Record, KPCW, the Park City Chamber/Bureau and the Park City Community Foundation. The forum drew a sparse crowd of a little more than 20, smaller than the several dozen that attended a mayoral candidate forum earlier in the day in the same room.
Toly said the municipal government needs to consider spots for housing development that include the location of the Marsac Building and the Utah Film Studios along the S.R. 248 entryway. She did not provide details about either of the locations, but each of them would pose difficulties if they were someday pursued. Toly also said the discussions about housing should be regional in nature.
Rubell told the audience he wants City Hall to work with developers and not-for-profit organizations as housing projects are considered. He contended neighborhoods must be preserved as housing developments are weighed. Rubell did not provide details, but he said solutions are needed immediately with no City Hall housing projects under construction.
Henney, though, challenged Rubell’s assessment that little has occurred, saying the comment from the other candidate was offensive. Henney said workforce or otherwise restricted housing is difficult to develop in Park City, describing those sorts of projects as contentious.
The three, meanwhile, also fielded a question about traffic, providing outlines of possibilities to combat the backups in the community. Rubell said visitors could be intercepted at the airport in Salt Lake City, apparently meaning they would not need to rent a car to visit Park City. That, he described, could reduce traffic. Henney spoke of the possibility of some sort of connection between Park City and the airport, perhaps with the assistance of funds tied to a future Winter Olympics if one is awarded to Salt Lake City. He also spoke of the importance of pedestrian and bicyclist routes. Toly told the crowd intersection improvements are needed and noted the possibility of someday using streetcars, which she described as something that is novel and would attract people to transit.
Other topics the three mentioned included:
• Henney saying corporate interests need to follow the rules of the community amid the pressure of free-market forces.
• Toly worrying about the use of drugs and alcohol in Park City.
• Rubell questioning whether the current Park City government is functioning at a high level and whether more could be achieved.
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