Editorial: Gov. Cox, we need to hear from you | ParkRecord.com

Editorial: Gov. Cox, we need to hear from you

We contacted Cox's office and asked if he could meet briefly with a Park Record reporter last week.

Earlier this week our journalistic hearts gladdened at the idea that by now we could bring you some remarks and insight from the Utahn in the catbird seat since the state Legislature adjourned on March 3. The legislative session yielded a record number of bills that landed on Gov. Spencer Cox’s desk to await his signature; a veto; or inaction, which will make them laws in 60 days from the close of the session.

We were most interested in the fate of two bills that focus on Park City and Summit County. Under the circumstances, it is more apt to say the bills targeted us: Senate Bill 271 takes away Park City’s authority to regulate fractional-ownership housing, which means, if it becomes law, that anywhere in the city where co-owned vacation homes are not already banned — which is much of the city — they will be allowed, no matter what the neighbors or City Council think; and Senate Bill 84, which, if it becomes law, would essentially let Dakota Pacific build its large development in Kimball Junction no matter what county residents or the Summit County Council say.

These may be tricky matters for Gov. Cox. Perhaps he has heard already from Utahns who wish he would veto one or both of them, and who see him as the firewall between themselves and an unsettling fate. Yet with their commanding majorities, the bills are regarded as veto-proof. What would it take for the governor to defy his own party?

Then again, these may not be tricky matters for Cox — which is why we hoped we and you would hear from him this week.

We contacted Cox’s office and asked if he could meet briefly with a Park Record reporter last week.

No, we were told, the governor was fully booked reviewing bills — but, a spokesperson said, if we could send along one or two questions by email, we could get a response the same way. And we did — these two questions:

Local leaders who oppose S.B. 84 say state legislators and the governor haven’t taken the time to visit Summit County and see what’s already being done to to create more affordable and market-rate housing. What is the governor’s impression of Summit County along these lines? Does he see the county as opposing some or all density and development, and if so, how could S.B. 84 — taking away local authority — help?

S.B. 84 has been chastised because of the process it went through to incorporate a last-minute substitution directly impacting Summit County, one that the district’s representatives said they were unaware of, and because it interferes with local control. Will allowing this legislation to become law set a bad precedent? Why or why not? Does Gov. Cox consider this “spot zoning”? What is his response to these concerns raised by residents and others across the state?

We think these are reasonable and important questions, the kind the governor, no shrinking violet, would want to address. But this time, the answer we got back, on Tuesday, was, “Because we are in the middle of reviewing 575 bills, we’ll decline the opportunity to comment at this time.”

We don’t think it’s that simple.

The governor should be proud of his role as a public servant and the governor of all Utahns, as we’re sure he is. We also are confident that he understands that the people of Summit County want and need to hear from him on such weighty issues for them.

In these days when trust is ebbing in elected officials along with news media, we can work together to face these issues squarely.

So we are extending another invitation to Gov. Cox.

We are willing to wait two weeks for him to get through this workload, and decide our fates, before we hear from him, if we must. But when those decisions are made, we in Park City and Summit County would still like to hear from him directly. He could come to Summit County, and to The Park Record for a frank discussion on the record that we will share. We could livestream it. We think everyone would benefit. Or our reporter can go to his office.

We await his response.


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