Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Aftermath of the ULI Seminar

Yesterday's Utah ULI seminar on what happened in the legislative session regarding land use issues was quite interesting and timely. Joining me on the panel were Mike Ostermiller, CEO of the North Davis/Weber Association of Realtors; Jodi Hoffman, land use policy person for the Utah League of Cities and Towns; and Sen. Greg Bell. Craig Call, Utah Property Rights Ombudsman, moderated the panel and did an outstanding job.

Mike Ostermiller felt, I think, a little like the target in a room full of bowhunters, but in reality there were a number of developer/realtor people at the seminar as well as local planners and elected officials. Mike and Jodi presented very contrasting views of what SB170 was all about, while I focused mainly on the process that brought about SB60 last year, and our surprise and disappointment that something similar wasn't done with regard to SB170. Sen. Bell did an excellent job of painting the scene of what the landscape is like in the legislature right now ("they don't like local government much") and how strong leadership will be needed in the coming year to properly address land use issues.

Bottom line, most everyone felt that we haven't seen the end of moves to make more changes to land use laws at the state level. The question just will be what kinds of changes and how we will move forward on those.

The Deseret News ran a story this morning on the seminar. Interestingly, the story was not so much about what was discussed at the seminar itself, but focused more on fact that a number of legislators work in the real estate and development business or received campaign contributions from the realtors and homebuilders.

In the previous blog entry to this one, I listed a number of excellent questions Craig Call put forward for the panelists to potentially address. Unfortunately, we didn't get around to them. But I would like to encourage you to go back on take a look at the comments to that blog -- there is a very interesting and extensive response from a recently organized group called The Utah Alliance for Citizens Rights, whose stated purpose is to make sure the referendum power on land use issues stays as a viable option. Interesting comment.

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