Since zoning changes can happen fast, and without fanfare, citizens either need
the ability to challenge them, or citizens need the ability to recall members of
the city council.With assurances that he or she will fairly
represent the constituents, one can be elected and turn on a dime. The ensuing
4 or 6 years in office can do a lot of damage before the opportunity arrives to
vote them out again.They work for the people, not the builders. Not for
the school district. Not for the college. Not for the mall developers.
To put every zoning decision on the ballot would be a mistake. I agree with
earlier points about mob mentality and low-income homeowners. However, that is
not the issue at hand. This is about whether zoning decisions should be
referable to ballot. Have you ever looked at the referendum process?
It's no easy task. Big difference between putting every zoning change on
the ballot and taking away the ability for a referendum. To take these checks
and balances away from citizens would assume that all political leaders have the
residents best interest in mind all of the time.Take the massive
Herriman area development for example. After it was vetoed, an independent
research firm conducted a feasibility study and said it would have been a poor
planning disaster. The developer was getting off scot-free as far as investment
in infrastructure.Lo and behold, county records revealed that the
developer had donated tens of thousands of dollars to some of the SLCo Council
member's campaigns. Not saying there was anything illegal, but it's
difficult to believe they were only thinking about the interest of the people
with their original decision to allow the rezoning.
If we put every development decision on the ballot... what do you think will
happen if somebody wants to demolish an area of affordable houses where lower
income people live (with little political voice) and build a tony neighborhood
where only higher income folks can afford to live?Think the poor
folks living in the area will prevail? I don't.So no... we
shouldn't do city planning by popular vote.How often do you
think people would vote to put a homeless shelter in their neighborhood? And
yet... it needs to be done.There needs to be a planning commission,
and there should be a way to overrule them when there's a good reason. And
there's already a mechanism to overrule them.Google
"Handbook for New Planning Commissioners - Utah.gov"...It's called an Appeal. Where a person, board, commission, agency, or
other body can appeal a land use application or variance.===Planning has deep roots in Utah. SLC was a planned city. The plan
guided the design and development of over 300 cities in the intermountain
west.It's how we decide how many parks are needed, and where.
And where heavy industry will be located (not in a residential area) etc.
zipadeedoodahRE: "Some growth yes. But too much and economies and
quality of living can be destroyed"...--Well if you know the
"Right" amount of growth that everybody would agree is the
"right" amount... tell us what it is. And see if we agree.==Utah does not need to lure big business to come to
Utah"...--We don't need big businesses in Utah if you
don't care if there are jobs, real jobs, not just working at the local mom
& pop malt shop, for your kids when they graduate from college.There was a time when if your kid graduated from college they had to move to
CA or back East to get a good job. Now they can get a good job right here. I
think it's great! My kids can work and live in State, instead of having
to move to another State to find a good job after graduation. A good thing.==RE: "They should never reduce these big companies tax
bills"...--"Never" is an absolutist term. Usually
indicates a radical position when they use terms like never, always, etc.IMO it's OK sometimes. When the jobs and long term economic
stimulus is big enough (like the deal to delay taxes on the Delta Center).It's not a Never or Always situation IMO.
No citizens should not be able to unless in extraordinary situations. We have
representative democracy for a reason and should not make it a common occurrence
to have these things on the ballot. Also builders and cities should have to
show that their development can be handled by existing infrastructure or that
the impact fees can fund the upgrading of the infrastructure.
"Growth is good. Without it, economies stagnate"Some growth
yes. But too much and economies and quality of living can be destroyed.Utah does not need to lure big business to come to Utah. They should
never reduce these big companies tax bills. Too often government officials
think that it is okay to subsidize billion dollar companies to come here. they
then load the taxes on the locals. Not good! Officials who do this sb voted
out of office. Better yet, those running for office sb better vetted by voters
to know where they stand on these issues.Yes, communities should
stand up to local governments to check their actions.
@RiDalRE: "@2-bits: You think the City planning commission has the
people's best interest at heart?"...---I don't know if
every City Planning Commission in every city in the nation has the communities
best interest at heart. But that's their job.If they
aren't doing their job, replace them. It's easy to do. It's
very local. They are appointed by the people you elected to run your city (very
local). If they aren't doing their job, go to city council meetings and
demand they be replaced or the people who appoint them will be replaced.The Planning Commission's role is...Fundamental issues like
the location of growth, housing needs, and environmental protection. Planning helps account for future demand for services, including sewers,
roads, and fire protection.The commission is made up of five or more
individuals who have been appointed by your local city council. They serve
without compensation and cannot hold any other public office or position in the
City.Usually they are lay people without any previous land use
experience. Not politicians. Not developers. People, like you or me. If they aren't doing their job.. replace them.
@2-bits: You think the City planning commission has the people's best
interest at heart ? That is frightfully naive. I am reminded of the quote
from one of the authors of the US Constitution:"Good intentions
will always be pleaded for every assumption of authority. It is hardly too
strong to say that the Constitution was made to guard the people against the
dangers of good intentions. There are men in all ages who mean to govern well,
but they mean to govern. They promise to be good masters, but they mean to be
masters." --Daniel WebsterUS diplomat, lawyer, orator, &
politician (1782 - 1852)
RE: "Should the people be allowed to overturn city planning
decisions?"...---No.Because every person votes
towards their own self-interest. City Planning Commissions look at what's
best for the community as a whole.If individuals with their own
self-interest in mind make the decisions (not the city planning commission)...
the people with the most money, the biggest voice, the ability to organize
(which is not the poorest among us BTW) get what they want. Even if it's
not best for the poor among us, or the community in general.So no,
we should not ignore the city planning commission recommendations if somebody
doesn't like it and can make a big fuss.If the City Planners
are out of line... un-elect them, and elect city planners who are.That's how things work in America. By elections. Not by mobs of people
with torches and pitchforks.Unelect them. Don't just override
one decision you don't like.
Well done piece. I appreciate concerns of those living in certain places.
However, the reality the rest of the world has found is that the idea of
everyone having a single family home is just not feasible in the growing world.
No!We are lurching ever closer to the tyranny of the majority of a
pure democracy. God help us.
The people should have a voice. There are few self-limits on what developers
would do to profit from building. Take a look at the areas surrounding downtown
Denver, where single family homes are being torn down and replaced with hundreds
of ugly, 3 story luxury apartments, built sideways to take up the entire lot.
That’s what can happen when the politicians of a city get too
cozy with developers and change the laws to remove protections.
Politicians do NOT know everything - but neither do mobsWhich is why we
have a representative form of a democratic republic:The answer to
the posed question can be seen in past mob decisions: A town center killed in
Centerville which resulted in a WalmartA killed proposal for a new smaller
Walmart on Parleys, that ended up with a remodeled K-mart becoming a large
Walmart with no energy efficiency or landscapingA killed planned community
west of the airport becoming a state prison and industrial inland port (because
it is unconstitutional to withhold services in order to force land to remain
undeveloped)A killed planned community in west Layton becoming a
traditional schlock suburban development (instead of a Davis County Daybreak
type community)Its hard to reign in mobs with legal realities and
constitutionally required justice
Flipphone- Limiting new building will increase housing prices, it's true.
However, it would also protect the quality of life for those folks already here.
Think about the eventual consequences to blindly following the
'Growth' paradigm. It is unmitigated disaster within a few decades.
We cannot go on attracting people to the valley and have anything near the
quality of life we now enjoy. Don't build it and they won't come.
Citizens have rights on what they want in their communities, but there needs to
be a valley-wide master plan in place before building. Currently there is
not enough capacity; light rail, mass transit, classrooms for the kids etc.,
that comes with high-density developments. Developments must also fit in
with the character of the area and that will require compromise. Developers
can’t be allowed to build into areas that are not suited for it. Looking at Sugarhouse, they are close to the freeways and there is a feeder to
light rail that ultimately could be expanded but what about school capacity
there? We can certainly learn from what is and isn't working there before
we turn these untamed developers loose on our other communities. There
needs to be compromise on both sides, but if we allow our elected officials to
make decisions without citizen input and give up our rights to effect these
changes we will end up with unaffordable housing and a diminished quality of
life for everyone. Do not the legislature and out local cities take away
our rights and give them to the developers and let us end up giving away the
very things that we all enjoy and currently take for granted.
Sandy voted against building high density housing, the results will be higher
home prices in Sandy. That is wonderful for we who already own homes here.
If you have excess demand for something, you either increase the supply or watch
as the price of that thing rises. If we don’t find the courage soon to get
serious about more housing, Utah will go the way of San Francisco, and that
wouldn’t be good for anyone.Supply has to match demand.
The facts are: Salt Lake valley is running out of buildable land.Not
everyone wants to commute for an hour.We need more housing. Not everyone
wants a five bedroom house with a yard.Build dense housing downtown,
and along Trax stations.
Has any large city been able to manage growth while minimizing congestion and
pollution? If so we should look st what they’ve done. I think Vancouver
May be an example
There are 2 problems here:First, Planning Commission doesn't
update the zoning rather it states if the project fits within the zoning. It is
the City Council (Elected Representation) that updates the zoning.Second, most apartments being built along the Wasatch Front are not high
density but rather medium density. It doesn't matter how many apartments
are included if the land size is larger. 300 units on 1/2 an acre is high
density. 250 units on 5 acres is medium density (this is the standard apartment
size going up outside of Salt Lake City).Zoning changes have been
happening for a long time, most land started as agriculture with 1 unit per 10
to 20 acres. This was changed over time to be 1 per acre, then 4 per acre, to
the current average of 6 per acre for single family homes.If you
started with 1 per 20 acres, 1 per acre is medium density and 4 per acre is high
density. It is all about perspectives.People should work to
encourage transit usage to limit traffic rather than try to stop growth, unless
they want taxes to increase. Most cities cannot support utilities and
maintenance on current zoning levels and need higher density and growth to
Good article. The appropriate time for neighbors to weigh in is during the
entitlement process, before city council votes. Referendum votes make it
impossible for builders and developers to operate with confidence. Affordability
is a tremendous problem and restrictive zoning, nimbyism, and referendum votes
will only serve to price your children and grandchildren out of the state.
Oh goodness, I agree with the conservatives on this thread; god help us all.
Have mere people overturn a decision by bureaucrats! What are you thinking?
Not if they are unreasonable or without viable merit. Otherwise you will not
have controlled growth and the services and tax dollars you will need for the
A better question is: "Should new city councils be allowed to un-record
recorded building lots from prior old city councils actions?"What city actions can be overturned by the people? If it's all of them,
then expect building lots to be un-recorded. Un-recordng building lots is
where this is headed.
A few holes in this opinion. First: Builders, Realtors, and developers have
control of much of Utah's government. Ivory, Woodbury, and others have
been able to do whatever they wanted for many years. Now, the citizens have
found their voice and are questioning why this has been so for so long. Second:
is this myth of affordable housing. With the current wage structure most younger
people can not afford any housing. The funny thing about these developments
being sold to us as affordable housing is that they aren't. They
aren't affordable. The sole outcome of high density is more money in the
developer and builder's respective pockets. That is this citizen's
view on this issue.
@Shaun: "I agree with your comment but I don’t see affordable housing
outside or on the fringes of the Wasatch front. It seems builders are getting
top dollar every where."Builders will always get top dollar for
the area. They get top dollar for high density as well. In fact, they get higher
profits on high density than they do on lower density, especially when the drop
it into existing single family neighborhoods.I don't know how
to get lower cost housing in areas where land is becomming scarce.I
know that housing costs are half the cost in rural areas of Utah that they are
along the Wasatch Front, for roughly the same home and yard. Supply and demand.
If it is beyond commute range of the WF then land is generally much less
expensive.The other problem as we talk about "average" homes
is that the size of average homes is going up. A 3 bedroom, 2 bath, 1000 sq ft
home is less costly than a 3000 sq ft home. But most buyers seem to want
bigger.My point is, high density in single family neighborhoods
isn't lowering the cost of housing. It is enriching developers and
destroying quality of life. We need to stop accepting high density as any
solution to high costs.
Yes. The people need a legal voice. Especially when City planners and zoning
decision makers are allowed to accept "donations" from developers and
@no namesI agree with your comment but I don’t see affordable
housing outside or on the fringes of the Wasatch front.It seems
builders are getting top dollar every where.
Developers have way too much power. Money, the promise of it. Lots of it( lucky
or unlucky pun ). The community should vote on it; it should not be left to
community representatives. Also, it seems advisable for the whole county to
look at the whole picture; and determine what long range goals and limitations
need to be set. We are all in this together and it would be a mistake to have
communities competing against each other, being played by developers. Actually,
to be fair to developers, there is a lot of redevelopment needed in this valley.
A group effort can go a long way to planning to benefit most, if not all
denizens, current and future, in this valley. And looking beyond this valley as
Jay, you've framed this inaccurately.The character of any
community should be set by those who live there. Short of infringing enumerated
rights of minorities, those who live in a community have the right to
self-determination.To avoid conflicts, most cities impose zoning
that limits the use of private property. A hog farm, composting operation, or
all night bar simply are not compatible with sub-urban, single family living.
Neither is high density including because of the perpetual lack of adequate
parking. Under zoning, I surrender the right to do anything I might like with my
land so as to avoid conflict with my neighbors and to enjoy the benefits of
knowing my neighbors have similar restrictions on their land use.Move in next to land zoned high density and you'll get no sympathy from
me when the apartments are built. But when the rules get changed mid-game to
benefit outside interests over long-time residents, we rightly chafe.HIgh density belongs in urban cores or at least in commercial areas, not in
single family neighborhoods.And none of the recently proposed high
density developments were "affordable".Want affordable
housing? Develop off the Wasatch Front.
Yes, the people should be allowed to overturn city planning decisions because
city planners are usually too cozy with developers.