I must apologize for not preparing and posting thoughts from our previous meetings in October. I was out of town for one meeting and had to leave the other meeting much earlier than I had planned to handle a water main leak at my home (on the tail end of a water heater failure). Life happens, good and bad, year in and year out. But 2020 has been something else…
Redevelopment Agency Meeting
255 South State, Brinshore Development
This is the big hole on the east side of State Street that was supposed to be an ambitious mixed-use/ mixed-income development. The original developer was unable to complete their plans and left a mess. Brinshore was awarded the subsequent contract and they have been working on a plan to build two buildings and plaza space with 168 of the 190 housing units being reserved for people making below 80% of the median income for 50 yrs. Since our previous briefings on this item, COVID-19, the economic downturn, and escalating costs have made their efforts tenuous. The developers are requesting an additional bridge loan to allow them to hit their deadlines this year. I support this because this current loan will come from business RDA funds that are restricted for downtown and we need this housing in the downtown core.
Station Center Street Design (300 South)
The plans for the new Station Center development adjacent to the Central Transit Station have been discussed for a while. This was a briefing on 1) a proposed redesign of the 300 South street and 2) a recommendation on creating a Business Improvement District (BID) to fund the ongoing maintenance of the area. The proposed redesign appears to be intended to prioritize pedestrians and plaza space over vehicle traffic. It added a lot of trees, made the “road” non-linear and eliminated some of the barriers between the pedestrian and vehicle spaces. It is a road design we have not seen before in this city. I support the concepts and would embrace a discussion to refine the ideas presented today for the street. The second issue regarding using a BID is equally important to the design. Too often we have not adequately planned for ongoing maintenance of these areas. The upfront analysis of the potential to fund this is encouraging. We do need to set this up before development occurs.
Budget Amendment #4 FY20-21
This is such a large and diverse budget request that it is difficult to explain much of it. I support it as it does address many good things like expanding YouthCity, funding some digital equity initiatives, and funding city employee teleworking and COVID needs. Two Westside impacts: 1) funding a pilot program to expand the downtown ambassadors program to North Temple. We need more resources like this in that neighborhood. 2) assist in funding an outdoor education space at the University Neighborhood Partners Heartland Center on 1700 south. I must confess that I was unaware of this initiative but am excited to see what they are planning.
I said it before, the highest best use of this city block is open space. Whether a park or plaza or something similar (to not limit too much based on state law that limits certain other businesses around “parks”). The current zoning proposal allows for such use. Next public hearing: November 17th. Visit the web hub for more info.
Single Room Occupancy ordinance (Shared Housing)
I would prefer to expand the geographic areas that would allow SRO’s. Like many like-minded ordinances, it has the potential for abuse. But we need to get this right to allow for a variety of housing. View the web hub for more info.
There was a brief update earlier in the work session regarding those who are unsheltered in Salt Lake City and the Salt Lake Valley Coalition to End Homelessness efforts to address emergency shelter this winter. The coalition, including the city and county, has been working to provide up to 250 beds in local hotels for those who are unsheltered. These are (hopefully) going to be ready in the next week in addition to the current resource center 700 beds, the county Stay Home Stay Safe hotel of 130 beds for those at greater risk for COVID-19, as well as 40 beds at St. Vincent de Paul winter shelter. This is much later than any of us wanted. And you might see news articles about other municipalities not supporting those plans. This is the struggle to secure shelter each year. At the end of the day, this is still a lack of affordable housing problem. I understand those who are upset over the county health department camp abatements and I hope people are also seeing the outreach teams and service providers offering services daily to those same camps. I also hope that same citizen energy will be used to petition the state legislature for more housing funding this coming February.