Park City official likens local issues to Third World problems
A member of the Park City Council recently likened some of the community’s issues to those in the developing world, a particularly blunt assessment at a time when the local economy remains hot but there continues to be concern at the Marsac Building that some segments of the population are struggling amid an otherwise strong recovery from the depths of the recession.
City Councilor Becca Gerber’s comments were unexpected and were made during a meeting earlier in November when the elected officials were not scheduled to discuss topics like the ones she broached. The other elected officials did not respond in any detail, but it seemed certain even before her comments that the leaders will address those sorts of issues in coming months.
Gerber said she attended a Park City Chamber/Bureau event that included a video apparently highlighting that people in Park City can be grateful for where they are. Gerber said the video referred to some Park City issues as so-called First World problems, a term that is typically used to describe issues that are not as urgent as those in the developing world.
She acknowledged she uses the term “First World problem” occasionally, such as when she talks about Park City’s traffic issues. She added that traffic issues could be “a good thing” since they imply people are coming to Park City. Gerber, though, also described that others in Park City could see the situation differently.
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“But I also want to say that we shouldn’t forget that there’s a part of our population that is dealing with safe and affordable housing, which to me very much feels like a Third World problem. And because of our affordable housing issues, they face issues affording food for their families, which feels like a Third World problem to me, and also affording medical care, which feels like a Third World problem to me. And there’s also a part of our population that feels somewhat disenfranchised and feels like their voice isn’t heard … Fighting words, that’s revolutionary talk, which also feels like a Third World problem to me,” Gerber said.
It is unclear whether Gerber’s comments will spur a specific discussion about the topics. The elected officials, including Mayor-elect Andy Beerman, who is now a member of the City Council, though, have been interested in addressing the broad topic of social equity. The upcoming discussions about social equity have not been defined. It seems they could touch on topics like the affordability of Park City and senior citizen issues. It seems likely the discussions will also involve issues important to the Latino population, the largest minority group in Park City by a wide margin. There appears to be the possibility a City Hall staffer could be assigned the duties or a new social equity department could be created to do so.
“They always say you can’t take care of others until you take care of yourself and so I think that it’s pertinent that we keep focusing energy on ourselves right now and making sure that we’re taking care of our community even as we acknowledge that we are very lucky to have some First World problems,” Gerber said.
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Park City leaders have approved turning Main Street into a pedestrian zone on Sundays in the summer, an effort to boost business.