In our opinion: Exploding growth in Utah Valley requires a mental shift in the role of housing

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  • Leester utah, UT
    Nov. 23, 2018 8:48 a.m.

    People love to complain about the population growth, unaffordable housing, high-density housing and horrible traffic but than they over-breed and have 4 or more kids...

    The disconnect between what's happening in society and ones personal actions is astounding.

  • Harrison Bergeron Salt Lake City, UT
    Nov. 22, 2018 12:00 p.m.

    Frozen Fractals: "If the population is the same in these two scenarios then high density housing is the one with cleaner air because it means less of a commuting distance on average…"

    Thanks for sharing this. I now understand how you misunderstand the issue. You are thinking of the atmosphere as static, not dynamic. The atmosphere naturally cleans itself with precipitation. High density areas are polluted because they create pollution faster than the atmosphere can scrub it.

    Also commuting distance is irrelevant when you account for congestion. As congestion increases it takes ever longer to go shorter distances. Traffic congestion increases with population density.

    And high density housing leads to a whole host of other problems beyond pollution. People tend to become less caring for their fellow humans. Personal responsibility, accountability and general societal virtue give way litter, violent crime, drug abuse, family disintegration and a variety of mental illnesses.

  • UtahEngineer Sandy, UT
    Nov. 21, 2018 12:59 p.m.

    Politicians made a fundamental error back in the mid 90's, when they jumped on the rail transit bandwagon as the heart of our future transportation focus and spending.

    Light rail, streetcars, and diesel electric trains all cost far too much to expand, they provide too little mobility improvement, and simply can't extend into suburbs to reach most of the populous. These are all failed antique paradigms. Also, it is astoundingly foolish to put diesel train lines right next to light rail lines along the spine of freeways on the Wasatch Front.

    Low cost housing means housing with lots of owner builder work and inexpensive land. We have lots of land. The key is gaining access to these areas, inexpensively.

    If we had applied ourselves to implementing a 21st century automated, super light and smart, and elevated rail transit paradigm, we would have the flexibility to branch out inexpensively into many valleys somewhat removed from the interstate. Look up CyberTran on the net.

    Many options were brought up by advocates of more modern transit alternatives, but Gov. Leavitt, Mayor Corradini, and shallow thinking it all.

  • Flipphone Sandy, UT
    Nov. 21, 2018 9:25 a.m.

    I think that over the last 50 years Utah has done a good job planning for the current growth and I'm sure that planning for future growth well result in the same.

    Not long ago everyone was demanding more high density building to save open space Now, many such as you in Holiday are against it.

  • stevo123 Driggs, ID
    Nov. 21, 2018 8:46 a.m.

    IMHO, Water and bad air will limit growth on the Wasatch front.

  • unrepentant progressive Bozeman, MT
    Nov. 21, 2018 6:19 a.m.

    Having recently driven through the greater SLC/Ogden/Provo metropolitan area several times, I can not understand how it is livable in any way. The traffic is a nightmare. The interstate highway itself is a mess. There are not enough lanes for the volume of cars now. What happens with all the new families who want their own homes and must commute great distances?

    I would not presume to tell Utahns what to do or how to do it. However, you have a problem now and doing nothing or more of the same will not solve it. It will only get worse.

  • UtahEngineer Sandy, UT
    Nov. 21, 2018 4:21 a.m.

    More repetition of the manifest high-density living mantra.

    The smart growth religion is alive and well, here.

    In fact, we are racing toward a Los Angeles style future as so many high density housing projects along the Wasatch Front overload the road network. The new interchanges on Bangerter were delayed by Mayors at Wasatch Front Regional Council in favor of a foolish decision to try to pump up UTA's 1% share, spending over $3 billion to expand UTA's train network. Our reward is an insignificant mode-share increase to about 2% transit. UTA is burning $400 million yearly; of that, $250 million is diverted from roads.

    The major error we are making is not building out the freeway network that works better for Northern Utah than anywhere else in the U.S. That message about freeway efficacy has been for two decades borne out by the CQ Quarterly Press annual volumes of data on American State Ranking. Utah has ranked first for two decades, with about 40% of daily VMT carried on our urban freeways.

    Prodicus of Provo is way off base on UDOT vs UTA finances.

    "The UDOT budget [cut] $1 billion is pure pork.

    Remember, ~98% of our travel is on roads; 2% on uta!

  • Shaun Sandy, UT
    Nov. 20, 2018 6:46 p.m.

    Show me where high density is affordable in Utah now.

    Maybe if condos or townhomes were affordable now people would buy into the concept?

  • 1Reader Alpine, UT
    Nov. 20, 2018 1:28 p.m.

    Wo, wo, wo--this is way, way off. California is in no way a model of 'in-my-backyard-ism'; in fact it's long been the total opposite! If it has an semblance of that, it is because parts of the Bay Area had, literally, roughly 100 times the housing scarcity that we are now experiencing in Utah County.

    This is insular thinking. 50 years is a long time. In the last 50 years, the greater LA area increased by 9 million people. 1 million people is just 0.01% of the world's population.

    Can't we just add a couple freeways or trains, a new reservoir--and build nice new communitieis in Nephi or south, east or west?

  • Frozen Fractals Salt Lake City, UT
    Nov. 20, 2018 12:48 p.m.

    @Harrison Bergeron
    "You can have high density housing and dirty air or low density housing and clean air. These are always served together on the menu, there is no a la carte, you can't mix and match."

    If the population is the same in these two scenarios then high density housing is the one with cleaner air because it means less of a commuting distance on average (than suburban sprawl) and more efficient building heating/cooling since more walls are shared with other peoples' walls rather than the outside.

  • Holladay citizen Salt Lake City, UT
    Nov. 20, 2018 12:40 p.m.

    Please report more on who is giving these “new projections” .
    Housing crisis keeps being screamed.
    Some “crying wolf” are those that will benefit from building- is my understanding. A story on following the money trail would be an interest to some.
    Can we address the “housing shortage issue” instead of how we are going to build high density in each community?

  • tallred6 Midvale, UT
    Nov. 20, 2018 12:26 p.m.

    Population growth is NOT due to immigration - it's our own kids and grandkids that want to stay here!
    Sprawling out leads to WORSE air - everyone has to drive into work and back out to suburbs. People stay out of cars and off the road when they can live, work, and recreate in close proximity. And I don't buy the "crime-will-increase-with-density argument. There can be plenty of crime in suburbs - just look at LA.
    San Francisco's insanely high rents are due in large part to a huge demand and little supply. We need more housing. People complain they don't want California to come to Utah - it's already here to a great degree with expansive sprawl and poorly designed infrastructure in the Southwest part of Salt Lake Valley. SoCal is the perfect example of what we are becoming, but we can change if we plan ahead for the growth that is coming no matter how much we complain about it. Your kids want somewhere nice to live, just like you did.
    I grew up on a half acre lot with lots of thirsty grass. I'd love to do the same for my kids. But the reality is becoming clear that if I want to live close to urban amenities, I'll have to choose. Can't have my cake and eat it too.

  • Strider303 American Fork, UT
    Nov. 20, 2018 12:15 p.m.

    Perhaps one way to better utilize existing urban neighborhoods to accommodate more residents would be in older neighborhoods with single family homes on 8,000 sq. ft. lots, to consider purchase, demolition, and replacement with a more efficiently designed twin-home. This option could be limited to a percentage of the neighborhood, like 20%, and the overall character of the area is preserved within the existing building codes.

    More people and limited resources will require cooperation with the public not just the elected officials to resolve the housing problem.

    Oh, there is plenty of land in the southwest portion of Utah County. Not all development has to occur north of Provo.

  • Prodicus Provo, UT
    Nov. 20, 2018 11:35 a.m.

    In the face of high housing demand, low-density construction persists only due to government zoning (preventing higher-density developments) and heavily subsidized roads (making long commutes, gridlock, and smog artificially inexpensive).

    The article already addressed NIMBY zoning laws. There are good purposes for zoning laws, but in practice we end up with a morass of impediments to progress.

    The UDOT budget is $1.5 BILLION dollars, only 0.5 of which comes from gas taxes, registrations, and other user fees. The other $1 billion is pure pork. If we raised gas taxes enough to actually pay for the roads, people would vastly reduce their driving and would be willing to accept other costs to live closer to work, school, and stores. Instead, we subsidize the sprawl and wonder why we have housing problems and smog.

    People who claim that high-density housing causes air pollution or that high density housing only exists due to "communists" need a reality check.

  • marxist Salt Lake City, UT
    Nov. 20, 2018 11:33 a.m.

    @Onion Daze "The American economy, as presently structured, depends on an endless increase in population."

    More than that, capitalism itself demands endless growth.

  • Onion Daze Payson, UT
    Nov. 20, 2018 11:15 a.m.

    Population growth in the United States is fueled primarily by emigration into the country. If that process were greatly restricted, much of the problem of housing shortages would be solved.

    Do not look to that taking place (emigration restriction). The American economy, as presently structured, depends on an endless increase in population.

    Follow the money.

  • Seldom Seen Smith Orcutt, CA
    Nov. 20, 2018 10:12 a.m.

    We supposedly have a climate change problem. Then why are we building more roads, more cars, more buildings, etc.

    Where does it end? This is not a rhetorical question.

  • stuff Provo, UT
    Nov. 20, 2018 10:06 a.m.

    In other words, they are going to force communist style housing on us all. Period. We are all subject to those kingmen.

    There really is more than enough land for non-mass housing in Northern Utah. We don't need to live like communists.

  • The Trooper South Jordan, UT
    Nov. 20, 2018 9:19 a.m.

    Utah does not have the same problem as San Francisco. Rent control, limits on new housing, laws hostile to property owners, and over regulation are the reasons SF is so expensive. It is largely government created shortages.

  • Harrison Bergeron Salt Lake City, UT
    Nov. 20, 2018 9:15 a.m.

    "Utah may look to California for some inspiration. In the San Francisco Bay Area…"

    Utah should look to California as an example of exactly what NOT to do - especially the San Francisco Bay Area which has become a cesspool of crime, drugs and human feces. In a stroll down the streets of SF, you see people shooting up heroin and smoking meth in broad daylight.

    "If residents want their kids and grandkids to live and work in the Utah Valley … some high-density, affordable housing will need be part of the solution."

    Residents of Utah Valley don't make the same mistake we have made in the SL Valley.

    You can have high density housing and dirty air or low density housing and clean air. These are always served together on the menu, there is no a la carte, you can't mix and match. Oh and if you choose the high density high pollution option, it comes with a side of traffic congestion which you must eat.

    Utah is one of the most urban states in the country; more urban than such states as New York, Illinois and Connecticut. Nine of every 10 of us live on only 1.1% of the state's land mass. Let's spread out a little bit and give ourselves some room to breathe.

  • Weston Jurney West Jordan, UT
    Nov. 20, 2018 8:05 a.m.

    Couple million people, no problem.
    Only one freeway, no problem.
    Hardly any mass transit, no problem.
    Unbreathable air, no problem.
    No water, no problem. Plenty more where that came from...

    Oh wait. We may have a problem.

  • Flipphone Sandy, UT
    Nov. 20, 2018 7:45 a.m.

    If you want to build a single family home on a large lot, Millions of acres to the west and south west as well as in Box Elder country are available for development.

  • From Ted's Head Orem, UT
    Nov. 20, 2018 6:25 a.m.

    I find this opinion piece to be a bit confusing. While the headline seems to be focused on Utah Valley, it's really an opinion about activism. The accompanying image relates to the Cottonwood Mall area, not Utah Valley. Comparing the super expensive greater San Francisco area with Utah Valley is also a head scratcher. Tying in affordable housing--which isn't necessarily solved by high density projects, further confuses the issue of changing how we view housing. And what percentage of houses in Utah Valley sit on 1/2 acre lots? Most developed areas that I see have lots less than half that size.

    Yet, a change is going to be required if Utah Valley is going to be home to the estimated population growth. Which is not to say that "if we don't build it they will still come." Sure, a lot will still come UNLESS restrictive laws are passed with the intent to prevent it. To me the bigger issue is can we get our collective acts together and make good plans for this expected population growth? I think we can and while there will always be a certain percentage of folks who are priced out of the market and can't afford to live here, we have plenty of room if we plan well.