Guest opinion: Vote like Park City’s future depends on it — because it does
As I have mentioned before, Park City has experienced several turning points in its growth, namely the start of the Park City Ski Area, Park West and Deer Valley ski resorts, the Olympics in 2002 and the Vail Resorts hostile takeover in the 2010s. These inflection points changed the tone and the tempo of this town, spurring unprecedented growth and development with new infrastructure and new loads on old infrastructure such as water, schools, roads and housing.
Now we stand at precipice of change, another inflection point. There are plans to allow a thousand new residential units in the Tech Center at Kimball Junction, and many more in the parking lot at Deer Valley and the Park City base area. And this does not include thousands of new units and commercial properties at the new Mayflower Ski Resort, the Hideout Ranch, the Browns Canyon intersection, Silver Creek Village, Canyons Village, Coalville, Kamas and Heber. This could be at least 10,000 new units in the next 10 years and some/most of these folks will live here full time! What are you people thinking? This housing explosion would generate 100,000 new vehicle trips a day on our already crowded roads. This is not OK. We should be afraid, very afraid.
Historical approval consideration used to contemplate the public good and the general human welfare when considering local projects and problems. We evaluated real and comprehensive cost/benefits for all, not just the chosen few who get to make the backroom deals and decisions. We respected zoning limits and historical agreements, not just the developer’s bottom line. We weren’t afraid of their threatened lawsuits that maximized densities and profits or bemoaned illegal “takings.”
What were these potential developers thinking when they bought their undeveloped property at a lower price for the original reduced zoning densities? Now they want to upgrade zoning or past approvals for larger densities and higher buildings and rake in the big bucks or extort us to pay for them not to build. Why should we adjust zoning, prescribed densities, heights, parking demands or usage types to satisfy a developer’s perceived entitlement? What about the community entitlements?
I get it that this state/country are now more concerned with personal property rights and individual freedoms than the common good, but this town is better than that. Most of us came here for the “quality of life” thing and not to get rich. We valued nature, mountains, recreation, isolation, open space, the challenging climate and each other. We didn’t invent this mountain lifestyle, but we have perfected it. The “essence” of this place is still pretty nice. Let us not forget these values as we take the next steps in our growth and development up the stairway of our success. Is it a stairway to heaven or a highway to hell?
Will we ever have the political temerity or community courage to finally say “enough is enough?” Growth should be the defining issue of the next local election, not climate change or social injustice. Those are important global problems to deal with at a higher level. The time is right to elect people who will protect the public welfare and the future of this town, without polarizing us into “locals” and “newbies.” Ask the candidates where they stand on unsustainable and unsupportable growth, zoning and developer entitlements. We don’t need any more platitudes or backroom deals. We need vision and backbone. Cactus Ed Abbey said we “don’t need more growth, we need more democracy.” Lincoln and Jefferson said we need “government by the people.” Vote carefully Park City, like your future depends on it.
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“This town cannot risk destroying this historic treasure by allowing a development that not only does not fit the environment but egregiously out-scales the entire town,” writes Nancy Lazenby.