Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Downtown Assessments, Developments & Events

COUNCIL NOTES: 10.17.06

By Dian Woodhouse

The first order of business, quickly dispatched, was to set a public hearing for November 7th, 2006, "providing for the annexation to Ogden City of 2.21 acres of land continuous to the corporate limits of said City, which land is generally located at 1238 West 2550 South." This was approved unanimously by Common Consent.

The next issue of import on the table I will reproduce from the agenda:

Central Business Improvement District No. 1. Proposed Resolution 2006-27 respecting the continuation of the Ogden City, Utah, Central Business Improvement District No. 1 and use of a special assessment to fund economic promotion activities in accordance with State law; to appoint a Board of Equalization and Review; to authorize City officials to give notice of the completion of the assessment list and of the time and place of related public hearings; to authorize City official to prepare all necessary documents to further consider levying an assessment; and related matters. (Adopt/not adopt resolution -- roll call vote.)

I reproduced that because I read something similar in the newspaper and did not have the slightest idea of what this was, then read the agenda and was similarly baffled. It was not until the background was given by Mr. McConkie that it began to make a bit of sense.

"(This)...Resolution pertains to funding of special events and promotional activities," Mr. McConkie began. He went on to say that prior to 1993, a fee had been tacked on to the business license fees of those operating downtown businesses to help fund downtown events. In 1993, the funding source for these events and promotional activities was changed to be an assessment against downtown property owners. (One of the alleged reasons for this change was that there were quite a few vacant buildings downtown, the owners of which were not contributing to the funding.) Also in 1993, the city contracted with Downtown Ogden Inc., which is run as a non-profit organization, (501-c-3, I believe,) under the leadership of Mr. Dan Musgrave. The Board of Downtown Ogden Inc., is comprised of downtown business and property owners as well as Mayor Godfrey and Councilman Stephenson. This Board makes recommendations as to how the money from the above assessments on properties is to be used.

The Resolution, therefore, will allow this process of levying assessments on the properties of downtown business owners to go forward. Also will be established a "Board of Equalization and Review," and three dates will be given as to when the assessed can go before this Board to discuss their property assessment.

Councilman Stephenson asked how the assessment is collected. The answer was that a letter is sent out to the property owners notifying them of the assessment. There is a 78% collection rate on these assessments, and liens will be placed on the properties of those who do not pay it.

Dan Musgrave spoke, and stated that it was important that we know that no increase in this assessment had occurred since 1993, and furthermore, the bulk of the assessments were around $200, and also furthermore, he had letters of support for this from twenty owners whose assessments were larger than $200. Property values have increased, as well.

Councilman Safsten asked if perhaps business owners participated because part of this $70,000, or whatever the figure was, was their own money. The answer to this was affirmative, and it was thrown in that assessment was based on property values. It was not stated that there would be an assessment increase this year, but it was stated earlier that property values had increased, so this may be a possibility.

The motion to approve this Resolution 2006-27 passed unanimously.

The next formal order of business was Proposed Ordinance 2006-61 to amend Sections 16-1-3 and 16-2-2 of the Building and Technical Construction Code to enable it to comply with the Utah Uniform Building Standard Act. These sections were not gone into, and the motion to approve the proposed ordinance passed unanimously.

Next were public comments, and the first speaker addressed a problem around 24th and Grant which he and others perceive is having a negative impact on business in downtown Ogden. There are four restaurants located around there, and Grant has a one hour parking zone. The speaker presented to the Council a petition signed by business owners in the area requesting that that zone be changed to a two hour zone. Clients of the restaurants have had business lunches only to emerge to find parking tickets on their cars.

The owner of the Metro Cafe spoke in favor of changing this to a two hour zone, stating that he was doing all he could to make the Metro Cafe succeed, and ticketing his clientele was not a help to him. "Respectfully, I'd like to add an extra hour over there," he said.

Sharon Beech then spoke, first stating that she was pleased at Amer's coming to Ogden, and then stating that she was very displeased at the continuing statement that the proposed gondola will connect to Snowbasin when Snowbasin has said publicly that it will do no such thing. Using such phrases as, "I think it is disingenuous to the extreme," and mentioning that no one has, as of yet, received any proposal, feasibility studies, or much of anything from the prospective developer/gondola builder Mr. Chris Peterson, she stated, "It isn't going to happen, so quit saying that it will."

Next, the Commander of a local VFW Post spoke, requesting the Council's support for a Veteran's Day Parade in Ogden. Characterizing this event as "an appreciation of veterans that is way overdue," he stated that there will also be a rally at Lindquist Field "to support our men and women in uniform. This is not in support of the war, but of them," he said.

Administrative Comments were next, and Mayor Godfrey addressed the petition brought in by the business owners near Grant that wanted the two hour parking zone. Stating that there was a formal process for making such requests, he told them to talk to him and that he would "get you with the right people and get the right petition."

Council comments followed, and Councilwoman Wicks formally thanked the managers of Lindquist Field for their support and accommodation of Brad Wheeler's Great Harmonica Event of 2006.

Councilman Stephens then spoke regarding all the development going on in Ogden and the visit from Utah State officials at the Kemp aircraft opening. The officials had stated that they had been to Ogden for one opening or another for three weeks in a row, and Councilman Stephens stated that we can all take pride in all the things happening in Ogden. He also mentioned that there were two active community groups in Ogden which were at odds, and voiced the need to "sit them down and talk to one another."

Councilman Stephenson spoke in the same vein, saying, "There's a pulse in Ogden right now," in reference to the long awaited building activity at The Junction site. "I see lots of involved business owners," he said. "It's a time to focus on what we're good at...that we bring businesses in that will make Ogden a viable place in the long run." He said he saw lots of community involvement, and that was all to the good.

Councilwoman Jeske then spoke, stating that she had been asked to address a civics class at Ogden High School on the subject of "What's Happening In Ogden," and she thanked Mr. McConkie for helping her amass materials for this presentation, which was extremely well received by the students. She went on to say that she was extremely sorry to have missed the Great Harmonica Event, however, CERT was also doing a presentation that day and she was in charge of that. Hopefully next year there will be no such conflict.

Councilman Safsten then spoke, also mentioning all the events that went on in Ogden this past week, saying, "It's fun to brag about the town you live in." He went on to remark that the developmental progress Ogden is making is by no means the work of just one or two people, but a large combined effort of individuals and organizations. Drawing a connection between Adam aircraft and the fact that the first magnet school of the Ogden School District is an aeronautical school, he stated that this was "not an accident," but rather an illustration of these combined efforts.

Chairman Garcia also spoke complimentarily about the recent events, and then made a quick motion to adjourn, which passed unanimously.

26 comments:

sharon said...

You got it right, Dian.

There has been a lot of good fun activity going on in Ogden!

The only flies in the ointment right now are the secrecy surrounding every proposed business venture coming into Ogden. Patterson and Godfrey always are quoted as saying 'as yet unnamed'....just like on the Shupe Building which succumbed to that awful fire. Right away the mayor returned from his gondola European trip to say he has 'an unnamed investor' for that property!! WHO?
The other fly is the lure of a gondola allowing one and all to step out their office doors to glide up the mountain to ski at an UNbuilt resort!

Enuf already. Apparently some people find Ogden an attractive place to do business WITHOUT a gondola...so stop Mr.Mayor, with that!
And, John Patterson and Godfrey, how abot naming these entrepreneurs who are coming into Ogden? Why the secrecy? Haven't we had enuf?
It would rejuvenate flagging spirits to hear that IHOP, WALDEN BOOKS, CHILI'S or whomever was coming in.
People had something to look forward to when Larry Miller finally said his theatre was a done deal.
The gondola isn't a 'done deal', so knock it off, eh?

Tho Curt Geiger did tell me that the gondola to Malan's will take only TWO months to complete!

Curmudgeon said...

Dian:

Thanks, yet again.

I noted Mr. Stephens comment that there were two active community groups in Ogden which were at odds, and voiced the need to "sit them down and talk to one another."

I think I'll write him on this, and point out that there is a compromise that has been proposed: Ken Jorgensen's "Option B" which involves the city making available a small parcel of land, say seven acres, at the head of 36th street, by sale, to Mr. Peterson for a base station for his mountain gondola. He then can develop the Malan's site, which he owns, and build his gondola from 36th street to the basin with his own funding. Should be no problem finding investors if the project is as attractive and sure to succeed as he claims it is. Let the market do its job. Under this compromise plan, Ogden would get to keep the Mt. Ogden parklands as parklands, and would not spend tens of millions of city money building the downtown to WSU gondola, which the mayor now concedes is not a public transit project. The city can then proceed with the street car development over that route that the Wasatch Front Regional Council has recommneded as the best transit solution and transit-based growth generator for Ogden.

Several people who support Smart Growth Ogden have proposed this compromise plan to Lift Ogden supporters and other gondola-proponents. They have dismissed the Plan B compromise out of hand, and are insisting on an "all or nothing" approach to the Peterson / Godfrey proposals. [Note: I am speaking as an SGO supporter, but not speaking here on behalf of the organization.]

Councilman Stephens, getting people to sit down and talk to each other will not accomplish much if only one group is willing to discuss compromise solutions, and the other group insists that it must have its way, completely, or nothing at all.

dian said...

Am still mulling this over, but I had an very negative initial reaction to this levying of special assessments on downtown building owners for the purpose of funding city sponsored special events downtown. I draw back from running our downtown business district along the lines of a condo association.

The Council seemed to be of the opinion that building owners would "participate more" in these events because they were, in part, paying for them. I question this. I am thinking that many building owners perhaps rent to business tenants and may even live outside the area. Furthermore, forcing monetary funding for special municipal events from a select group of individuals who happen to own property in an area where those events happen to occur does not seem to me to be conducive to happy participation.

Bottom line, I don't think these owners should be forced to pay into this event funding. And putting a lien on their properties if they don't, I view as force. Contributing to these events should be at the discretion of the owners, in my opinion.

We have a General Fund, which should be amply able to provide all the funding for events, not just part. Why can't it? Officials have balked at paying for the Marshall White Center, city services have suffered cuts, departments have had job cuts, city equipment is outdated in some instances, and yet it seems necessary for downtown property owners to pay even more for city events which, in my opinion, should be funded by the city. Where is all this General Fund money going?

It was emphasized at last night's meeting that building owners were highly in favor of this, don't mind paying it at all, can see benefits from it, etc., etc. None were there to speak in favor of it, however, (or against it--none were there at all,) and, in looking at this, it is the fact that owners don't have a choice that I object to. Some owners voluntarily contribute heavily to downtown happenings, and this, coupled with the city's contributions, should be enough. Shouldn't it?

And yes, I know that downtown areas everywhere do this. Form groups and alliances for improvements, lobbying, and events. But participation in such things should be voluntary, I believe. The fact that the city will place a lien on the property if the owner does not wish to participate in the funding of downtown events I think might be crossing a line.

Tod Transit said...

Curm, Please do write the councilman. It is important at this point to keep those representatives engaged in rational conversation and analysis of this project. I find most of all that the enormity and complexity of the project prevents any knowledgeable evaluation of this thing by anyone who hasn't either engineered a few things themselves or been a civil engineering buff. The Mayor wants to be the authorizer of all knowledge that is pertinent of this thing yet all we get are assurances that he has talked to experts.

sharon said...

Dian,
I agree with your remarks. I had a cautionary feeling also. You'll recall Ms Van Hooser asking that very question, "will paying these assessments make businesses more willing to participate?"

That question wasn't satisfactorally answered, I thought.

A LIEN is punitive. I was disheartened by the story the Metro Cafe owner told of his customers being ticketed. But, he HAD gone 'thru hoops' to have someone in the city rectify the situation and had gotten no relief.
When ones 'goes thru the hoops', a resolution should be found.

I don't think that business owners downtown want to belong to an 'association'. That smacks of rules and regulations and interferes with free enterprise.
Already the LEIN is spoken of for non compliance.
This attitude is not friendly and welcoming to businesses.

I've hard several stories of persons being turned out and off by the mayor's "arrogant and unwelcoming attitude" when they've approached him about opening 'shop' in Ogden. Are 'we' only going after big names now? AND, BTW, who ARE those 'big' names?
If AMER actually locates downtown...think of their assessment for special events!

Curm, your post illustrates a 'rational' point of view. We 'obstructionists' have asked questions, and begged for accountability. We haven't rec'd answers and because we keep bringing up our objections to a non-plan, we are labeled as 'negative and non-progressive.' SAD

Anonymous said...

Geiger, Geiger pants on fire,
hanging from a telephone
w(e)i(ge)re.

SHARON said...

I called Antelope Island today, and "Crystal" has responded with the info I requested. Curt Geiger informed me last nite that ONE MILLION tourists visit AI yrly and that ONE HALF MILLION will come to Ogden (for the gondola!)

Here are the figures:

96,000 visitors last year (that's 96 THOUSAND)
93% from U.S.
52% from Utah
41% from Davis County
27% from SL County
22% from Weber County

That should help in determining the veracity of Mr. Geiger's claims regarding tourism in Ogden.

sharon said...

Correction:

That's 96,660 visitors last yr.

Ozboy said...

Sharon, I went to Antelope Island twice this last year, both times with 3 friends from Utah. So we added 8 "visitiors", none of whom is likely to ever ride an Urban Gondola in Ogden. However, I'm sure that we all might ride a mountain gondola if it ever gets built.

This is typical of the false information that these jokers have been putting out for over a year now.

A few months back I called the Park Service in Yellowstone, and the Chambers of Commerce in both West Yellowstone and Jackson hole, inorder to verify the figures Gieger senior was throwing around about visitors to that area that drive by Ogden on I-15.

He was saying 3 million per year via I-15, 10% (300,000) of which would pull off the freeway to ride the gondola. It turns out to be pure fantasy on his part, like so much of every thing else they put out to support this dumb assed proposal his figures were gross exagerations and/or pure lies.

seems the Yellowstone - Jackson area has about that many visitors total. They come from all points on the map, not just north on I-15. Lots of them come by airplane. That number also included locals who come and go by air and highway.

At any rate these two tall tales by the hucksters of LO are just typical examples of how out of touch with reality that whole group is.

Anonymous said...

Sharon,

I don't know why Big Bird would be so concerned about your credibility when he has none.

Consider the source. He's been spreading dis-information now for a long time. He can't help himself, he's a salesman without a product. If it weren't for Descente, he'd probably be looking seriously at one of those 1000 jobs that Chris Peterson is offering to our residents. He might even get paid $8.00 per hour because he knows the boss.

I suspect that he's more concerned with the fact that you're having an effect, that he considers determental to his cause.

Someone keeps telling all of these companies that the gondola is a done deal and that it's going to Snow Basin. If it's not the mayor then it's got to be Big Bird.

Anonymous said...

Check your sources....if you do a search the number of visitors per year to Yellowstone it is approximately 3 million. Some sources say as low as 2.8 million and others say over 4 million.

So careful who you say is lying there ozboy...it might be you.

Anonymous said...

I believe Oz was referring to the 10% figure, not the 3M figure. In other words, to suggest 10% of Yellowstone visitors would pull off to ride a tram from downtown to Weber State is unsubstantiated, if not absurd. For this, and so many other statements, it is clear the Geigers and Godfrey are liars. The question is: Why? They must have a large, personal stake in the tram to push it so stridently.

Osaka Samurai #9 said...

I'd move to Osaka now, Curt.

It's the only place left on earth where you still have a modicum of respect.

Anonymous said...

Godfrey and Geigers,
sittin' on a (gondola) tower;
givin' good-old OTown
a Golden Shower

Southsider said...

Anon (2:25),

You just agreed with Ozboy's figures: about 3 million visitors a year. But only a minority of that 3 million gets there via I-15 going passed Ogden.

Curmudgeon said...

Sharon:

Thank you for tracking down the numbers on Antelope Island. That makes it about 47K or so from out of state. Using the ten percent "would ride the gondola/visit Ogden" estimate, that means, max, 4700 visitors a year. Not an insignificant number [if anyone could establish a reasonable basis for using it to estimate the number of AI visitors likely to continue on to, and stop in, and ride the gondola in, Ogden]. But not the massive influx extimated either.

What this all illustrates is that we... you, me, citizens of Ogden, the Planning Commission, the Council... need sound numbers based on study before making decisions, not hope-based estimates from project advocates. If indeed they can establish that their numbers are reasonable based on studies that are available for scrutiny, fair enough. Absent that, predicted numbers of riders, tourists, tourist dollars spent, skier days, etc. should be taken for what they are: unsupported puffery offered up by advocates of the proposals to sweeten their appeal. The LO Amen Chorus may actually believe them. But absent studies to support them, no one else should.

Anonymous said...

No, go back and read what he said: He said that Gieger is lying because he said 3 million. His "call" determined that there were only 3 million visitor to the Jackson-Yellowstone area total...thus implying that 3 million to the park is fantasy and that 10% of fantasy is further fantasy.

I don't know about the 10%, but I'm pretty sure that Yellowstone gets 3 million per year. And that Gieger saying that Yellowstone gets that many visitor is not lying.

So before telling me what he was referring to, go back and read his "truthful" statistics.

dan s. said...

While we're on the subject of misleading statistics...

At the mayor's transit presentation at Union Station two weeks ago, city staff displayed a poster with the title "Urban Gondola". Under the sub-heading "Estimated Number of Riders", the poster presented the following:

Baker Study for 2030 Transit Ridership: 3700 to 4200 riders/day
Fehr & Peers 1998 Tourist Ridership: 1000 riders/day (approximate)
Total Estimated Riders: 4700 to 5200 riders/day

Now let me explain what these numbers actually mean. The Baker study's estimated weekday gondola ridership was actually 3900 to 4200. But the first number was for a gondola along 23rd and Harrison with a stop at Monroe and a stop at 4400 south (McKay-Dee Hospital, etc.), both of which are high-use areas with potentially large transit ridership contributions. The second number was for an alignment along 26th Street, with stops at Monroe and McKay-Dee plus an additional downtown stop near the Municipal building. It's not valid to carry these numbers over to the currently proposed gondola alignment which would not include any of these additional stops (though it would include two additional stops in lower density areas). Also, it's important to realize that most of these anticipated riders are people who would already be riding the local bus with its existing service (extrapolated to the year 2030).

The Fehr & Peers 1998 study was for a tram connecting either WSU or the top of 27th Street to the top of the mountain and Snowbasin resort. The ridership projection was indeed about 1000/day average, though the methodology was suspect because they cherry-picked successful trams elsewhere for comparison (mainly Albuquerque and Palm Springs), ignoring the many others that attract fewer riders (Snowbird, etc.).

But even if we accept this ridership projection, there are two reasons why it's not valid to carry it over to Ogden's proposed urban gondola: (1) The currently proposed destination is not Snowbasin but Malan's Basin, which will have far less capacity to accommodate visitors; and (2) only a small fraction of mountain gondola riders are likely to ride the urban gondola, since (a) Peterson plans to put parking for 150-250 vehicles at the top of 36th street; (b) WSU's huge parking lots will be available on weekends and holidays, and possibly throughout the summer; and (c) some of Peterson's visitors would be WSU students and staff who are already parking on campus.

The bottom line for the urban gondola is that it's not a cost-effective investment compared to buses or streetcars.

The bottom line for the city administration is that they fail the integrity test once again.

ozboy said...

Sorry if I was not all that clear about what I learned from telephone discussions with people at the National Park Service and the Chambers of Commerce in West Yellowstone and Jackson Hole.

There are about 3 million visitors per year in the region of both parks (Yellowstone and Teton). This includes Yellowstone Park, Teton Park, West Yellowstone and Jackson Hole.

Those visitors come from all directions to the five entrances of Yellowstone. I do not recall the exact figures now, but a quite a few come by air to Gardner, West Yellowstone, Jackson and Bozeman. There is a large percentage that come from the east and through the east and north entrances, and still another large contigent that comes from the pacific north west. All in all there was perhaps 20 percent of the total 3 million visitors that came into West and Jackson from the south (I-15). That would be about 600,000 passing Ogden, not 3 million as Geiger represented.

Geiger Senior was representing that there were 3 million that were driving by Ogden on I-15 to get to the parks, and that it was certain that at least 10 percent (300,000) would stop of in Ogden to ride the proposed gondola.

Where he gets the 10 percent number is any ones guess. My guess is that he and the little lord cooked them up over some rope they were smoking in the toilet of the Kokomo while they were waiting for Stu to fix his make up and straighten his nylons.

Anonymous said...

Ozboy,

I take great offense to your suggestion that they were in the Kokomo. I have a beer in there every once in a while and I can assure you that the establishment wouldn’t let people of their questionable morality and integrity come in the door.

sammy said...

Well Anon, if they are in biker drag how is the Kokomo bouncers to know of their true character?

Curmudgeon said...

Comment moved to main article by administrator.

sharon said...

I find all that very confusing and rather alarming. Didn't you, Curm?

I don't like getting rid of established procedures. Why were
the PC members absent? And if this was not a decision making meeting, why was the decision made to proceed with the briefings anyway?

Also, aren't they all stingy with candy, cokes, and food? The CC has enuf food for a small army and has never offered anyone of the 'audience' a morsel. We're paying for all that, aren't we??

Thanx for all the note taking, Curm.

sharon said...

Ozboy,
You've given me a good laff! When will your book, "Hilites of Lowlifes" be on the bookshelves?

Oh, I forgot. Mayor says Ogdenites don't read, therefore no bookstore for us.

Curmudgeon said...

Sharon:

I suggest that you ask the Planning Staff for a copy of the proposed changes to the Sensitive Area Overlay Ordinance and for a copy of the proposed Multiple Use Development Zone ordinance. There is much in them, and my brief summary could not possibly do them justice. Some of the proposed changes seem well grounded and others seem less so. But I wouldn't draw too many conclusions from my brief summary, which was meant as a heads up. The proposed changes and the proposed new ordinance are worth the time to go through carefully, I think, and I recommend it.

I hope your comment about no bookstore was merely rhetorical, and does not mean that a bookstore of some sort is not being planned for the mall redevelopment complex. What would be good would be an indie store on the order of the King's English in SLC rather than a cookie cutter mega-store. Something not available at Layton Hills Mall, providing a reason to shop local. But if not that, something, surely.

dan s. said...

Curm: Thanks for the heads-up.

Rudi: How about getting those proposed ordinances and posting them for us?

Everyone: This is serious stuff. We all need to pay close attention.

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