Racial and economic inequality in Park City

The steepness of Park City’s mountain range is a direct reflection of its steep price of living. We begin our journey at the base of Parley’s Canyon today. Imagine it is dumping snow outside your window in Salt Lake City, the sun has barely begun to rise, and your car is heating outside, awaiting for its ascent into the Wasatch mountain range.

Based on this information, I would assume that your job is at a ski resort in the Cottonwoods or you are a backcountry ski guide. In reality, you actually work at a gas station in Park City. You have woken up this morning to commute to your job in a two-wheel drive vehicle up 2,130 feet of elevation gain during a blizzard.

Adhering to reason, you might consider moving closer to your place of employment or getting a job somewhere down in the valley. This would entail finding a place to live in Park City or giving up your Park City wage for a lesser wage in Salt Lake.

Now, imagine you have a spouse and two children and as you search for two-bedroom apartments in Park City, you are met with listings of a minimum monthly rent of $2,800. You do the math and realize a monthly rent in Park City costs 100% of your full-time job’s monthly income. It is still the 21st century, and we have not figured out how to live off of an air-based diet. You conclude that a new living situation for your family is nearly impossible.

According to Town Lift, 14% of Park City employees live within city limits. This means 86% of the people who keep Park City operating are not able to enjoy the benefits of living in this mountain town. If you do live and work in this city, chances are you are spending at least 60% of your monthly income on rent. With the rise of tourism, 70% of homes in Park City are vacant or second homes.

Knowing this, it is understandable for you to ponder about claiming squatters’ rights in some of those places.

Unfortunately, the low-income options within this town are also less than desirable. The low-income housing in Park City offers year-long waitlists and “affordable” rents of $1,500 a month for a 400-square-foot studio apartment. Oftentimes, students are not eligible for these housing requirements, leading to economic debt up the wazoo for them. Recently, housing options have been created with a dorm-style approach, giving someone cheaper housing, plus 11 roommates.

The effects of this city’s economic position can be seen in its streets and on its mountains. Racial diversity and living in this town struggle to co-exist. Just the other day, I watched several people gaping at a black person walking down the street. This town’s unfamiliarity with people who are different from them is embarrassing and detrimental to the growth of our society.

Unfortunately, Park City, is a town in the United States that perpetuates racial economic inequality. This beautiful town has so much potential to be a welcoming environment for people of all backgrounds to live in.

Park City Mountain’s new logo claims this is “Your Mountain.” Maybe, we could start to live like it is “Our Mountain” and actually make living and recreating here accessible.

Norah Jones

Park City

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