Guest editorial: Second-home owner will gladly shoulder burden of Treasure bond
Washington, D.C., and Park City
I call myself a part-time local. I have been coming here to ski since the 1980s and I love this town. I was lucky enough to buy a miner’s shack in Old Town before the Olympics. Over time, I have fixed it up, and I spend as much time here as I can. In fact, as I write this, I am sitting at my dining room table, appreciating the quiet, and imagining what it would be like with jackhammers pounding away up on the hillside. I hope that never happens.
As a homeowner who is not a full-time resident, I don’t have a vote. But I do have a voice. And my message to the registered voters in Park City is simple: Please vote in favor of the open space bond.
I understand that there are many full-time residents who rarely come to Main Street. But for the average visitor, Main Street is the heart of Old Town, and Old Town is the heart of Park City. To me, the true beauty of Old Town is the fact that the town is nestled in at the base of the mountain, and the hillside is not dotted with large, beautiful homes or boutique hotels.
There is a limited amount of land on this planet, and once it is developed, it’s gone. Recognizing this fact, the voters in Park City have supported the acquisition of open spaces in the past, regardless of whether people live near the actual parcel in question. Appreciating the non-monetary value of open land is part of the soul of this town. Where that comes home to roost here in Park City is whether residents will support the opportunity to acquire open spaces while we still have the chance. Yes, it costs money. But most of the money that will pay for the bond will come from people who don’t live here, either — at least not full-time. People who don’t have a vote on this issue but will end up paying the lion’s share of the cost.
Many homes in Park City sit vacant much of the year, yet the homeowners pay taxes at a higher rate than full-time homeowners. But full-time residents — homeowners or not — can hike up Sweeney’s Switchbacks all the time. I understand the concerns about social inequity. But think about it this way: Full-time residents who are renters can vote for the open space bond and put more of the burden on the homeowners, whether full-time or not. And full-time renters and full-time homeowners can vote for the open space bond and put more of the burden on the part-time homeowners. If that’s not an egalitarian result, I don’t know what is.
The demographics of Park City have changed over the many years I have been coming here. Real estate prices have gone up as the billionaires chase out the millionaires. But real estate values have gone up, too, which also benefits the longtime residents who bought long ago and have stayed. I understand that money doesn’t grow on trees. But if we make the short-term choice to pass up this opportunity because of money, we will be making a big mistake that will resonate in the lives of our children and this town for generations to come.
I recognize that folks are suffering from bond fatigue and wondering “where will it end?” Well, my understanding is that there are not a lot of parcels of open land left within the Park City limits. If there are, then I, for one, hope there is another bond in the future to preserve that land. By then, I plan to be in a position to vote for it. Until then, here is your chance. Go ahead! Make me pay for the privilege of owning a home here!
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I must admit that, although I have felt much love wherever I hung my hat during this life, I never felt more at home in a new cultural environment than on my first trip down that coastline.