Wednesday, January 03, 2007

A Leadership Vote of Confidence & a Moratorium on Development

Ogden City Council Meeting Notes - 01.02.07

Last Update 01.05.07

By Curmudgeon

Substantive business began with the election of Council leadership for the coming year.

Council President Garcia was nominated for that post for another year by Councilwoman Jeske. Nomination seconded by Councilman Safsten. No other names being placed in nomination, Mr. Garcia was elected as president for another year by voice vote.

Then Mr. Safsten nominated Councilman Stephenson for Vice President. The nomination was seconded by Mr. Stephens. Councilwoman Van Hooser then nominated current Council Vice President Amy Wicks for a second term, seconded by Mrs. Jeske. On a voice vote, Ms. Wicks was chosen for another term as Vice-President by a vote of 4-3. [Note: see Councilman Safsten’s comments explaining his vote on the council leadership at the end of this report.]

For the sake of conserving precious front-page bandwidth, gentle Curmudgeon's article continues on an archive page. Be sure to read the full-text version here .

Gentle Curmudgeon's above-linked & detailed report of last night's council meeting is most excellent. Don't miss the discussion of the six-month development moratorium, which puts downtown property owners in further limbo, and a summary of Councilman Safsten's first campaign speech designed for the municipal election year 2007. If you didn't click the above link on the first pass... go back and do it now, we suggest.

Update 1/3/07 11:19 a.m. MT: We link here Scott Schwebke's Standard-Examiner story, which provides additional useful details about the six-month moratorium.

Update 1/4/07 11:19 a.m. MT: Councilman Safsten has graciously transmitted to us the full text of his prepared statement, which he read into the council record on Tuesday night last. We accordingly link it here, for our gentle readers' attention and analysis. We would also like to give councilman Safsten a hearty Weber County Forum Tip O' the Hat for checking out this public forum, engaging with our cyber-community and getting involved with those of us who discuss local politics 24/7. The major theme of Councilman Safsten's prepared statement revolves around the crying need for free and robust communication, and in this respect the gentle councilman has now put his money where his mouth is, as the old saying goes.

We now doff our WCForum hats, and welcome Rick Safsten into out cyber community.

Update 1/5/07 3:46 p.m. MT: As a matter of blogger courtesy, we also welcome Councilman Brandon Stephenson here. Unlike recent arrival Councilman Safsten, who seems to have some ready familiarity with the nuances of the blog atmosphere, Councilaman Stephenson appears to be still "hung up," like an internet "newbie" on the anonymity that prevails often here in cyber-space.

Stick with us, Brandon! We hope you'll become a regular reader and poster. Keep in mind that blogging is partly entertainment (with lots of political education built in.) In that connection, we don't believe ANYBODY believed that your below comments section imposter was really you.

You're bound to get in better touch with your political constituents if you read this blog daily. Better yet, please post here often. We designed this place for continuous political discourse, and it's encouraging that we now have at least three city council members regularly reading and posting here along with the rest of we lumpentownsfolke.

85 comments:

Curmudgeon said...

Well, nothing like starting off a new thread with a correction....

Mr. Safseten emailed me, regarding my summary of his comments above. He wrote: I would disagree with the word "animosity." I did not use that word in my statement, nor was it implied.

Mr. Safsten was kind enough to send along a copy of his remarks in full, and as he notes, he did not say "animosity." That was my reading, not his statement. My apololgies for reading more into his comments on this point than he intended.

OgdenLover said...

Curm,
Thank you for posting such detailed information on the CC meeting and doing it so promptly. Dian would be proud of the job you did.
The entire Contempo Tile story ("the mayor was in the room") sounds really strange. No?

Anonymous said...

From what was written in summation of the meeting last night, it seems obvious to me that the city leadership that keeps telling us that the city is unfriendly to development opportunities has only to look at the leadership of it's own planning department (Mr. Montgomery) to see a reason why we hear these comments coming from those that try to deal with the city. These comments (that according to the administration) are still being heard under this administration should be addressed if the city is to ever be viewed as business friendly. Simply look at the explaination that was given by the city to both the existing property owner and the individual that has been trying to develop a restaurant in the proposed area. This is a perfect example of what is wrong with dealing with the city. No communication in one case and the run around in the other case, how many times have we heard the same thing.

The city needs to set the standards and expectations as to what the area should be developed to look like as a finished product and that is all. We don't need the RDA to be the developer. We shouldn't be interferring with free enterprise. The administration should quit blaming others for why things aren't working and start fixing the problem internally. Yes he is a nice man (and related to Godfrey) but the one common thread is Mr. Montgomery.

Anonymous said...

I've been reading about the city's intention for the river project and I think that the city needs to revise their intended development of the property. Per the articles in the paper and the design drawings it appears that the city intends on converting a large portion of the property to be developed into apartments.

Doesn't the city have enough rental property already? If our downtown business development scheme is to succeed, shouldn't we be developing more residential development geared toward ownership as opposed to rental? We have an inconsistency developing here that will insure the failure of the big picture. A downtown development that will depend on local traffic to support the business establishments and the closest local market to draw from that won't be able to afford the fare.

The city needs to think this out and (I suggest) get rid of the rental market aspect of the project.

junebug said...

10:35 Anon-
How exactly is Greg Montgomery related to Mayor Godfrey? Is this true? I don't think it is.

10:57 Anon-
I agree somewhat with your statements about rental properties. However, I do like this location for a mix of rental and owner-occupied. What needs to be done is to get the unbalanced level of renters out of the traditional single-family neighborhoods in Ogden and move them to more apt places. Ogden needs to stabilize its older single-family neighborhoods! Hopefully as a result of all of the development taking place in Ogden this will continue to happen. Ogden program's like Own-in-Ogden and Home Sweet Home have been very successful in improving Ogden's neighborhoods. Ogden definitely deserves credit for that.

I'm glad to see that leadership with the Council is where it is. The thought of Stephenson at the reigns was a scary one indeed.

sharon said...

Very good job, Curm! Indeed, Dian was smiling over your shoulder.

Many have heard, for years, that this admin is 'unfriendly' to potential business owners. Why is that?
Does it seem that the city is competing WITH private enterprise?
It does not appear that potential and actual buyers of land in the River Project areas were apprised of what the city 'envisioned' there.
If not, WHY not? If sold in good faith, and the owners have plans ready to go, and some are already underway, it is disingenuous in the extreme for the 'city' to now say "Halt"!
I think this city is ripe for some dandy lawsuits. We already know that the restaurant owner HAS an atty on the job.

Geez, how many snafus can this financially stricken city afford?

Anonymous said...

The relationship is not new news.

I was told once but have since forgotten. But it's close enough that you would expect them to see one another outside of city business on a somewhat regular basis. Enough that it would be hard for the mayor to let him go without getting a great deal of heat from the family. At a minimum though, the mayor needs to demote him, more him to another department or let someone else take over the leadership of the department. Someone that will be more business friendly to businesses and more considerate of the residents.

Anonymous said...

As far as mixed residential (renters and owners), I disagree. You need a higher end market there to support the downtown and you're not going to get that with mixed residential.

RudiZink said...

We asked the question of Mr. Montgomery earlier, during an interview regarding the proposed "mixed use ordinance."

Mr. Montgomery told us he is Boss Godfrey's uncle; (the Mayor's mother's brother, if memory serves.)

Anonymous said...

I appreciated Curmudgeon's printing of my comments last night and his desire for accuracy. Whether you agree, or disagree, with the comments, at least they are accurately represented.

I could not agree more with "Junebug's" comments regarding rentals in Ogden in single-family neighborhoods.

Ogden will always need some percentage of rentals to provide a healthy mix of housing--virtually everyone is a renter at some time or another in their lives.

However, Ogden has way too many neighborhoods being over-run with rental units that is destroying any social structure of those neighborhoods and physically ruining the homes themselves. Most homes were never originally designed to house 2,3, or more families and when that happens, most existing home owners will leave the neighborhood. Then the economic, social, and school fabric or structures collapse.

On the other hand, rental units for our central downtown can have a very positive benefit. When people live downtown it generates new business and social activity around the clock.

The Gateway in Salt Lake did a quasi-study where the restaurants passed out coupons to the condominiums (owners) and apartment (renters) dwellers in the area. The restaurants found the condominium folks came to the restaurant, but ordered their food on a "take-out" basis. On the other hand, the apartment folks, came to the restaurants, ordered drinks, sat in the restaurant and generated more economic activity and sociality than the condominium owners. The social dynamics from rental units are probably more desireable for our downtown than condominium owners, although both types of housing will be offered downtown.

dan s. said...

Yes, Curm, your report is much appreciated and is a fitting tribute to Dian.

Welcome, Councilman Safsten!

The Council was in a tough spot on the River Project moratorium. I'm not sure how I would have voted. But one thing was abundantly clear: This embarassing situation could have been (and should have been) easily prevented if the administration had done its job and gotten a good mixed use zoning ordinance on the books years ago. Montgomery's excuses for why they didn't (blaming it mostly on the state legislature for taking away the ability to use eminent domain) were really pathetic. The General Plan has called for mixed use areas since 2002. The Planning Commission has been talking about the need for such an ordinance for even longer. The River Project has been in the works since about 2001, and even if it had fallen through, we would still need a mixed use ordinance for the other mixed use areas identified in the General Plan.

(I say "need" because existing ordinances don't really contain the design standards that you would want in a mixed use area--oriented to pedestrians more than to autombiles. However, the existing CP-2 zone, which already applies to part of the River Project area, can easily accommodate mixed use. A compromise in the current situation would be to simply rezone the entire River Project area as CP-2. This would prohibit new manufacturing uses in the portion that's currently zoned for manufacturing, and allow new multi-family residential development in the portion that's currently zoned for single-family homes. Thus, it would address most of the specific concerns that Montgomery mentioned last night. But a new zone or overlay zone containing better design standards would still be very desirable. As I said above, it should have been written and adopted years ago.)

The big question now is whether the administration will try to claim that the Ellison ordinance is the same thing as the mixed use ordinance they need for the River Project. They've already hinted pretty strongly at this. But it's utterly laughable, because the Ellison ordinance cannot be applied to a piece of property without the owner's full cooperation and a properly executed development agreement. That ain't gonna happen for all those dozens of small parcels, especially in six months. So let's hope that the current situation with the River Project will force the administration to draft a true mixed use ordinance.

Fellow Supporter said...

I say: DAN S FOR MAYOR!! AND IF HE WON'T RUN...THEN AT HE VERY LEAST...COUNCILMAN!

WHAT A THOUGHTFUL, ARTICULATE, ON THE BALL GUY!

dan s. said...

Why, thank you, fellow supporter!

Please remember that it's much easier to be a back seat driver than to be a council member, let alone mayor. I don't think I'd do very well in either capacity, but I try to do what I can from where I'm at. And it's most encouraging to be working alongside so many talented and dedicated citizens.

Anonymous said...

[From Rick Safsten]

Dan,

There can be argument of why the "Mixed Use" zoning isn't already organized and ready to apply to the River Project. However, it is another argument to decide when the best time would have been to apply that zoning. I wish we would have had the "mixed use" zoning to apply last night. However, to have actually applied the "Mixed Use" zoning much earlier than last night would have only given more grief to the property owners. The reason is because only recently have we known that the River Project would actually get off the ground. It would have been stupid to apply Mixed Use zoning over the top of the existing Mfg., Comm. and Residential zones if the "Mixed Use" zoning would never have happened.

The action last night now enables the land owners to finally have confidence in offering their properties to the private investors waiting for this plan to actually happen.

There is much more to be discussed regarding the River Project, but, in short, the best thing for the city and the existing property owners is to get the Mixed Use zoning applied as quickly as possible.

Curmudgeon said...

Just an aside:

Kudoes to Council president Garcia and the Council for opening the floor for public comment on the temporary development moratorium during the Council's discussion of the matter and before the vote. They didn't have to do that, but it was the right thing to do. Good on 'em.

RudiZink said...

Councilman Safsten said: "There is much more to be discussed regarding the River Project, but, in short, the best thing for the city and the existing property owners is to get the Mixed Use zoning applied as quickly as possible."

We offer our own observations on this:

The a la carte zoning ordinance proposed by the Lord Mayor ain't gonna fly, Hon. Councilman Safsten. It's "no-zone zoning," just as the critics contend.

It's time for you and the other dedicated council members to find a MU model ordinance that works in similar cities -- and our city -- or create one of your own.

Welcome to the WCF board BTW, Councilman Safsten; and thanks for your candid comments.

As the November 2007 municipal election approaches, we'll be hoping to hear more from you.

We agree with you that a continuing dialogue is a must.

Don't be a stranger here.

Anonymous said...

[From Rick Safsten]

Rudizink,

There is no doubt that the Ogden "Mixed Use" zoning idea comes from the successes in other cities. The general concept of mixed use is not an original idea.

The council can and should discuss the origins of the "mixed use" zoning version that comes from our Planning Department. We can ask where and why they came up with our particular zoning ordinance proposal.

I will be happy and willing to report on this.

dan s. said...

Councilman Safsten, et al.,

I was talking about the creation of a mixed use ordinance--not necessarily about applying it to a particular piece of property in the River Project or elsewhere. It's the former step that takes more time. Once the ordinance is on the books, I should think that it could be applied to the River Project area within a few weeks, rather than the six months that we're now looking at.

If such an ordinance were already on the books, could it have been applied already to the River Project? The answer probably depends on the details of the ordinance, but I don't see why it would necessarily have been "stupid". Many other cities have adopted zoning ordinances to promote mixed use and have applied these independently of any city-financed redevelopment efforts. The normal sequence would be to first adopt a general plan and/or neighborhood plan to determine what sorts of development the community wants; then go ahead and zone the property to promote the desired development pattern; and finally consider whether any city-owned or city-subsidized developments are necessary or appropriate. In America, it's actually traditional for most land to remain in private ownership and for most developments not to receive government subsidies. But this doesn't mean that the government shouldn't do any planning or zoning, and it certainly doesn't mean that the government is ever obligated to leave in place a zoning pattern that's left over from decades ago when priorities were very different.

OgdenLover said...

"Mr. Montgomery told us he is Boss Godfrey's uncle; (the Mayor's mother's brother, if memory serves.)" - Rudi

What about nepotism laws? How about people recusing themselves because of potential conflict of interest, or the appearance thereof?

Excuse me while I take a quiet moment to self-destruct.

Anonymous said...

Being from a neighboring Ogden community, I love the moratorium, and I hope Ogden puts a moratorium on all of Ogden. The developers are already saying, if you build in Ogden “it will cost you 40% more because of all their ridiculous regulations.”

So combining these two facts means “get the hell out of Ogden as fast as you can, and go to another city if you want to survive.” Smart move Mr. Montgomery and Council. Contempo is probably looking for a new home right now. A home just outside of Ogden city boundaries that is.

Way to go council. You are really holding out your welcoming arms to people and businesses now aren’t you?

BTW - Jeske is the only one with a brain, and she made a bold attempt to do what is right!

almanack said...

Anon,

Right on the nose.

Are you saying the centralist planners saw some freedom and got really scared? Heaven forbid there be some small degree of freedom in Ogden near our downtown River project.

Said they, “Lets stop that freedom right away, as someone might become prosperous, and prosperity means competition to our RDA does it not?”

Anonymous said...

To Rick Safsten,

I respectfully see some things differently than you do.

Your comment in the post above was “to have actually applied the "Mixed Use" zoning much earlier than last night would have only given more grief to the property owners. The reason is because only recently have we known that the River Project would actually get off the ground.”

I agree with you that the city has just physically started the first phase of the project but I would suggest that we won’t know for a while whether or not the whole vision will take off or not. The city hasn’t fully committed to the project and this is what I see as part of the problem.

The city should have a plan in place before it starts developing in stages and that plan would start with a detailed design concept, a laid out zoning structure and a budget. If we are truly committed to the renovation of this part of the city where is the plan and where are the already in place zoning ordinances? Once again we seem to be flying by the seat of our pants. We’ve got the big picture but we’ve forgotten to do the details. It’s only when we encounter the need for the process are we then addressing the process (or for that matter realizing that we need to address the process), this is simply bad planning and we need to do something about it, otherwise the City Council is going to continue to hear from upset residents and developers. There should already be a mixed use zone in place with a detailed design plan for the project.

The city shouldn’t be trying to control the development through RDA purchases and the city shouldn’t be trying to control the area by putting a moratorium on any development in that part of city either.

Believe me as an investor, no real estate investor is going to buy anything if they thinks that the city will possibly rezone the area from what that investor’s intended use was going to be for that purchase. What the city in effect has done already is prevent those existing property owners from doing anything with their property whether it involves selling or developing the property (you heard that at the meeting). What the city should be doing is what Dan S. suggested above. The city should be developing a workable, legitimate mixed use zone designed to transition an older part of the city into a new development.

Your additional comment in the above post was” It would have been stupid to apply mixed use zoning over the top of the existing Mfg., Comm. and Residential zones if the "Mixed Use" zoning would never have happened.” and “The action last night now enables the land owners to finally have confidence in offering their properties to the private investors waiting for this plan to actually happen.”

Here again my approach to the transition of the area would be different from what the city is currently looking at pursuing. I do think you can overlap the developments for a period of time while the area transitions from it current zoning to the new zoning. It wouldn’t take long for the existing property owners that don’t have conforming property to see the added value that there neighbors enjoy thus encouraging them to also participate. This approach would remove the RDA from the process, eliminate the city’s need to acquire properties, would most likely speed up the development, remove the need for possible eminent domain and allows the free market, free enterprise system to work in the area.

I would suggest that the city immediate implement a workable mixed use zoning ordinance that would include proposed development design plans for the area that would be effective on all future buildings and their uses in the area. With the understanding that only those properties that currently exist would be allowed to maintain their current status that varies from the future intended mixed use. In other words, existing properties that currently represent a deviation from the intended mixed use would be grandfathered but only as long as the property is not modified or expanded. Effective on any and all new development in the area the new developments would have to comply with the new mixed use zoning. This would greatly increase the level of understanding to the residents and property owners within the area as to what their property can be used for as well as what to expect in the future. Grandfathered property would transition into the new zoning as property values in the surrounding real estate market moved up in value.

And lastly to steal some of your words, this would enable the land owners to finally have confidence in offering their properties to the private investors waiting for this plan to actually happen.

Dorrene Jeske said...

Thursday night, January 4th, the Council has a couple of items on their work session agenda that I believe are of interest to most of you. The meeting starts at 5:00 PM in Room 310, Council Conference Room, and I invite you to come, obtain the information, then let the Council know your thoughts.

The first thing that will be discussed will be possible options for a canopy for the Commuter Rail Platform. The Council needs to decide how to fund the project.

The next item on the agenda is the BIG one – a Joint Resolution with the Mayor to adopt the legislative priorities for the 2007 Legislature to consider. The resolution addresses the issues of eminent domain and land use among others and follow the stands that the Utah League of Cities and Towns has adopted. I will put the complete resolution as it was given to the Council. I will also indicate in parenthesis and italics where I feel the Council should add further definition.

“A JOINT RESOLUTION OF THE OGDEN CITY MAYOR AND THE OGDEN CITY COUNCIL ADOPTING OGDEN CITY’S LEGISLATIVE PRIORITIES FOR THE 2007 UTAH GENERAL LEGISLATIVE SESSION, AND PROVIDING THAT THIS RESOLUTION SHALL BECOME EFFECTIVE IMMEDIATELY UPON PUBLICATION AND FINAL PASSAGE.

“WHEREAS the City Council and Mayor are looking forward to the general session of the Utah State Legislature that begins on January 15, 2007, and

“WHEREAS the City Council and Mayor remain interested in the policy challenges facing the State, the City of Ogden, and other local governments including land-use authority, sales tax distribution, transportation funding and Redevelopment Agency amendments, and

“WHEREAS the City appreciates the partnership that had been developed over the years with our Weber County legislative delegation, other members of the State Legislature and the Executive Branch, and with the Ogden-Weber Chamber of Commerce legislative committee, and

“WHEREAS the City Council and the Mayor have determined that it is desirable to jointly adopt the City’s Utah State Legislative Priorities to ensure that a consistent position is communicated to Legislators, the Governor, Lobbyists and our Citizens, and

“WHEREAS the City continues to work closely with the Utah League of Cities and Towns regarding legislative issues, and

“WHEREAS the City desires to support, when possible, the legislative positions officially approved by the Utah League of Cities and Towns through their Legislative Policy Committee.

The Ogden City Council and Mayor hereby resolve:

Section 1: 2007 Legislative Position Statements. The following position statements are jointly adopted:

1. Land-use. Ogden City supports Utah League of Cities and Towns (ULTC) Resolution 2006-003 opposing any legislation attempting to take away or limit the authority of local elected officials to make land use decisions within their jurisdictions. Since one size does not fit all we believe that each jurisdiction must be allowed to adapt land use policy to its locale and its culture. We further oppose land use legislation that is punitive.

2. Sales Tx Distribution. In an effort to ensure stability in our sales tax base and maintain the current financing structure for our service demands we are supportive of ULTC Resolution 2006-001 which opposes any additional removal of sales tax from food or food ingredients.

3. Transportation Funding. We support ULTC Resolution 2006-005 that encourages the Legislature and Governor to redirect general fund dollars out of areas with funding surpluses and unto funding under and/or unfunded regional and statewide critical transportation projects. We also continue to support a full interchange at 24th Street and Interstate 15.

4. Redevelopment Agency Amendments. We support ULTC Resolution 2006-002 that supports legislation to reinstate certain eminent domain provisions back into the Community Development and Redevelopment Agency Act. The purpose of the amendments is to effectively address the existence of blight in Utah’s communities and provide condemnation tools to be used judiciously. This includes redefining blight and the redevelopment of blighted areas as an appropriate use of eminent domain, 2/3 of the property owners representing at least ½ of the land area must be under option to buy or willing to sell without the threat or use of eminent domain in order for eminent domain to be used on ‘hold-out’ properties, requiring a separate *super-majority (*Define super-majority – is it 6 of 7, 5 of 6, 75%?) vote of the governing body before eminent domain can be included in the project area plan and implemented by the agency, and reinstating the relocation assistance provisions for owners of condemned properties. (ULTC Resolution 2006-002 states that ‘condemned property owners will be fairly compensated. Ogden City needs to define ‘fairly’ and include it in the resolution. Suggest: ‘Property owners will be paid full market value, determined by an independent property evaluator.’)

5. Appropriation Requests. We support the relocation of the St. Annes Homeless Shelter which has served the needs of the Ogden/Weber area for over 20 years. The existing facility lovated on Wall Avenue must be replaced. Ogden City will help construct a new building. United Way and other agencies will assist in the fund raising. Salerno Architects estimate the total cost of the facility to be $4.8 million. We petition the Legislature for $1 million to assist in this worthy effort.

Section 2. Effective date. This resolution shall become effective immediately after publication and final passage.

PASSED AND ADOPTED by the Ogden City Council this _____ day of __________ 2007.

BTW: Anonymous, Thanks! I appreciate your kind words.

Annoyed with Anon's said...

As a New Year resolution, could you Anonymous' attempt a stab at creativity and come up with a name for yourselves?

Don't think we have a George, Cindy, Clyde, Patty, Dogface, Erudite Erin, or any number of other names posting at the moment.

Pick one of the above or make one up....how lame that you want us to read, ponder and give weight to your words and you have no ability to think up a name for yourselves.

The dopiest is when you post as Anon and then sign your name!!

Bah!

Rick Safsten said...

It should be noted that the plan for funding the renovation of the platform of the Union Station was already worked out more than a year ago. The city has already put in $100,000, the Union Station Foundation said they had $100,000 to commit to the project, and another outside foundation had a $200,000 match. Together, the $400,000 would complete the project. We are simply waiting for the money the Union Station Foundation said they had in order to proceed with the project.

The platform restoration should really brighten and enhance the west facing part of the Union Station and put a great face on Ogden for the arrival of the FrontRunner.

OgdenLover said...

To the Anonymi,

Perhaps some of you don't want to identify yourselves and have avoided setting up a Blogger account for that reason. It speaks volumes about our City Government that so many of us do not want our Mayor to know who we are, doesn't it? [I thought for a moment after writing that, because it is somewhat one-sided, however I haven't heard complaints from Godfrey supporters that they are being followed, fired, or harrassed. Perhaps because many of them are his relatives?]

Back to the purpose of my post:
You do not have to set up a complete blog in order to have a Username that shows up here. You can stop right after chosing a name.

Your name doesn't have to be clever. If we can follow your thread's logic rather than reading several "Anonymous" messages that are arguing with each other, it simply adds more weight to your ideas.

Dorrene Jeske said...

Rick, you state: "It should be noted that the plan for funding the RENOVATION OF THE PLATFORM of the Union Station was already worked out more than a year ago." I understand that we will be discussing CANOPIES and I was going by what our work documents that we received Tuesday night indicate: "PURPOSES OF THE WORK SESSION: 2. To provide opportunity for the Council to ask questions and discuss where additional funds for the canopies will come from." Let's not confuse people by mixing projects.

concerned citizen said...

Anonymous, the points that you make about the River Project are totally valid! It is apparent that you are coming from the business world, and have had a lot of experience.

It is frustrating for everyone that the plans for the River Project keep changing. I, too, have followed this project closely, and am disappointed that the retail portion has dramatically been reduced in favor of apartments. I believe that they will be the death sentence instead of the catalyst for having people down town for the following reasons: (1) As anonymous states, The River Front project "needs a higher-end market to support down town" which a lot of apartments won't bring. I have seen the results of building too many rentals, and in order to have them occupied, rents are decreased inviting a low income clientele. (2) It's an oxymoron to replace retail with apartments so that you have people down town -- for what purpose are they there if there are no stores and restaurants with which to do business? I will go one step further, Anonymous, and suggest that the City and RDA let individual businesses have the opportunity to buy and build approved businesses in the River Project area, and get of the mode of competing with business. It would save us, the taxpayers, and the City millions of dollars to buy options and eventually the land from the current occupants. Through zoning and issuing building permits, the types of businesses that spring up in the area could still be controlled, but at less cost to the City. The City needs to change the direction and the mode of transport they are pursuing. The Planning Dept. needs to be told to work with businesses and property owners instead of harrassing them.

It was very clear last Tuesday who is responsible for Ogden's reputation of being hard to do business with.

It would be nice and profitable if the administration and council had the guts to do something about it -like move Montgomery somewhere else in the City where he couldn't be such a liability.

Curmudgeon said...

A suggestion:

I don't want to get in the crossfire over whether the "canopy" matter for the Frontrunner station is or is not part of the "platform" restoration at Union Station the City has already earmarked funds to help do. That's simply a matter of fact and will be cleared up easily enough tonight at the latest [if the snow doesn't kayo the meeting.]

But I do have a suggestion regarding the Frontrunner station [with or without canopy]: I hope it is being designed with a "look and feel" that will fit in with [perhaps extend?] the historic platform look [once refurbisheed] and historic archetectyure of Union Station. Having some modernist neo-brutalist train station just down track from historic Union Station would not work well. However the Frontrunner station is designed, the designers need, I think, to keep in mind how it will work with the historic archetecture of Union Station just steps away. I hope they are doing that.

And... a New Year's Wish... can't we come up with a better name for the Frontrunner terminal than its being part of the ghastly named "Intermodal Hub?" [Sounds like the technical name for some gordian knot of pipes at a refinery].] I know it can't be "Ogden Station" --- too much like Union Station --- and I know it can't be "Ogen Depot" --- creates confusion with Business Depot Ogden --- but surely we can come up with something better than "The Ogden Intermodal Hub." Can't we? Maybe another contest like they ran to name the mall redevelopment?

Curmudgeon said...

Concerned Citizen:

Ah... don't know how to say this without stirring up more unhappiness... but at Tuesday's Council meeting, during the discussion over the temporary moratorium develpment, they had maps up on the screen of the River Project as currently envisioned. And I think one of the Council members [not sure about that, it may have been one of the public input speakers] noted that there was a disppointly small portion of the whole project devoted to retail. And I think I recall at that point Mr. Montgomery saying that the city planned to increase the retail element of the project area, that the map up on the screen was the general concept, not the final locked-in-stone distribution of properties and their uses.

Anonymous said...

Curm,
Inspired by "Grand Central Station", how about "Ogden Central Station" which could also be called "Ogden Central".

Curmudgeon said...

Work's for me... but for the repeating "Station" which could create confusion with Union Station. I was playing with "Transit Center Ogden". I know, I know, it does not sing. But compared to "The Intermodal Hub" it's a damed opera!

Rick Safsten said...

I am pretty confident The Union Station "platform renovation" is the same thing as the "canopy restoration." They are simply different terms for the same project. In layman's terms, the rusting hulk you stare at when you look out the windows of the Union Station restaurant needs to be refurbished before the FrontRunner arrives in Ogden.

RudiZink said...

Intriguing discussion re the Ogden Station naming.

As many of our gentle readers are aware, your blogmeister spent most of his early adult life (20 years =/-) residing and working in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Among the true joys of that urban existence was the BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) system. With proper travel planning, San Francsco Bay area residents could get anywhere they wanted on a train as early as 1972. Of course the system has drastically expanded since then.

BART keeps the naming of stations simple. For example, one of my most familiar BART stops, in Orinda, CA is "The Orinda Station." Same with the "Civic Center Station" in the center of downtown, a short walk between Federal, state and local courhouses, other government offices, Hastings Law School, and one of the greatest public libraries in America.

I cast my vote for "Ogden Station."

Simple and informative!

"Intermodal Hub" DEFINITELY SUCKS!

concerned citizen said...

Could even name it "Ogden Transit Center, (OTC)." Great idea to rename the Intermodal Hub - anything is an improvement! It could be done in conjunction with the arrival of the Frontrunner - have one big celebration!

Curmudgeon, if I remember right, it was Ms. Jeske who after looking at the maps said that she was disappointed in the small amount of retail indicated on them. As I recall, Mr. Montgomery's reply in a sarcastic tone was "The purpose of all the apartments is to get bodies down town." As I stated in my previous post, what good will it do to have bodies down town if there is no place to shop and eat? I agree with Ms. Jeske that there should be more retail in the River Project.

Curmudgeon said...

Concerned:

It may well have been Jeske. I don't have it in my notes. I just recall it being asked, and somewhere in Montgomery's reply, I'm pretty sure, he said something about planning to increase the retail component.

Ogden's misforture [now] I think is that the town center developed around the rail complex, not along the river. Most river oriented redevelopments I know of that have worked very well involve rivers running through the downtwon heart of a city or town. One concern I have about the River Project relative to downtown development is that it's just a bit too far away from 25th Street for people to consider it part of the same "downtown" area and I'm not sure Ogden can sustain two different "downtowns" at once. At least not yet. [Example: look what the Gateway development did to downtown SLC stores]. But we shall see. I'm not a city planner and haven't done any research on this. Just a vague unease about over-extending. Ogden is committed to the project now, though, and I hope it pans out as hoped or better. And [relatively] quickly.

dan s. said...

Councilman Safsten:

I heard you read your prepared comments at the end of Tuesday's meeting, but it went by pretty quickly and I didn't catch (let alone remember) everything. Now I've read the text, and I'm puzzled on one point: What was the "no" vote to which you refer?

Rick Safsten said...

With all respect to the above entries, except for regional retail (like Wal-Mart which wanted to come downtown), small retail requires bodies before they will come. I am confident that as people move downtown, that more small retail will follow downtown for 2 reasons: #1- People will demand convenient access to certain retail and prospective store-owners will see that. #2- As new development like apartments/condos come downtown, the area will be a more appealing place for retail to place their businesses.

Currently, the River Project is a shabby place where no retail will take a chance without some assurance of other projects. As good projects go in, the retail should progressively follow.

Anonymous said...

curmudeon,

Your concern about the viability of two downtowns is a good question. You also state you are not a city planner and haven't done the research.

My concern is that our planning department probably hasn't done the research either. I'd be willing to bet you a coke on that one right now. Had they, Mr. montgomery would have presented that information at the last City council meeting rather than telling people at last Tuesday's meeting that he was only showing them the general concept map (as this relates to rental units as opposed to more commercial developments). Seems obvious to me that no one has even thought of these studies. As commented earlier, it’s only when we encounter the need for the process are we then addressing the process (or for that matter realizing that we need to address the process), this is simply bad planning.

Anonymous said...

With all due respect to the City Council, I believe that they do not do any investigation on their own. They depend upon others to do the searhing out of material for them and then having administation digest it for them to vote on. These people need to look into these matters lthemselves instead opf taking Montgomery's and Cooks sya so on important questions. Aalso the Administration needs to give them final plans in plenty of time to do their research on them.

Anonymous said...

I agree and disagree with you at the same time.

When a person makes a presentation the the President of a company or to the Board of Directors they are expected to have all of their facts worked out and should be prepared for just about any kind of question that is thrown at them. This clesrly is not the case with the planning dept when they come before the City Council. The City Council should be able to rely on the planning commission to have done their homework and clearly on several occasions they have not. This has all happened under the watchful eye of the city administration that is the direct supervisor for this dept. This is inexcuseable.

You're right though that the City Council should not except these weak excuses, partial work or work of others and pass the action item as though it was the right thing to do anyway! The Council should task the planning dept. with coming back with ALL the answers and not until they can answer ALL the answers should the City Council even consider acting on the item. Also public input before the votes that raises good question about what the planning dept. has proposed should be researched and responded back to the Council before the Council is expected to vote on the item (even if that means that the item isn't addressed until a later meeting). The Council neeeds to expect more than it is getting from the planning dept.

Annoyed with Anon's said...

Criminy...do we have ONE Anon talking to him/herself or three unimaginative persons, all 'named' Anon?

Give yourselves an identifying moniker, ferpetesake!

sharon said...

I go for Ogen Station or just HUB...but not that AWFUL Intermodal Hub!

wally said...

How abut FROGDEN, for FrontRunner Ogden?

It's catchier that Intermodal Hub.

sharon said...

Councilman Safsten,

After reading your prepared statement, I have the distinct impression that you are chiding Dorrene Jeske for refusing to meet privately with Mayor Godfrey.

I recall, and I'm sure you do too, that when y'all were sworn in on Jan 3, '05...she pledged to keep "the light on Council doings"...and gave each of you a flashlight to back up her pledge to the citizenry.

MANY people in this town applaud her for her integrity in keeping that commitment.

Mayor Godfrey should have spoken to the entire Council about his 'vision' for a gondola thru Ogden. Meeting with Council members by one and two's seemed sneaky. Those actions may not have actually violated the Open Meeting Law, but it did seem to violate the SPIRIT of the law.

If the mayor's ideas are so good, why the hesitation in bringing them forth to the Council as a whole?

Your statement sounds commendable on its face, but one detects a scolding of the recalcitrant Mrs. Jeske!

You are calling for openness and a 'let's all get along' with our mayor...well, I think chiding a fellow Council member in public belies your motives.

Curmudgeon said...

Sharon:

Ah, we disagree again, I'm afraid. I found Councilman Safsten's statement at the end of the meeting interesting and not entirely one-sided in assessing responsibility for whatever breakdowns in Administration/Council relations that occurred. But, he pointed out, as a Council member, his greatest concern is with how the Council acts. I suspect I'd feel the same way as a member of a legislative body. I know I feel that way as a Democratic activist. I am most concerned with how my Party behaves, and I tend to come down harder on my Party when I think it has fallen short than I do on the opposition, which I expect to fall short. More or less constantly.

I don't know if Mr. Safsten's summary of what happened this last year vis a vis Council/Administration relations is accurate or not. I've heard other explanations of both what happened and why. Several of them in fact.

Mr. Safsten clearly thinks what happened as he understands it was not conducive to good governance, and he made his views known in public, in person, and on the record. [His statement will appear in the Council minutes.] I'm hard put to criticize that.

sharon said...

Noted, Curm. I don't think his comments were 'entirely one-side' either.

I do think they sound just as he intended them to. Conciliatory,
statesmanlike, and just a wee bit off-putting.

Ah, Curm..we disagree yet again...but I always respect you in the morning.

I don't always 'expect' your party to fall short, they just do without any expectations on my part!

Dorrene Jeske said...

Curmudgeon, in reference to your concerns when you posted: "Ogden's misfortune [now] I think is that the town center developed around the rail complex, not along the river. Most river oriented redevelopments I know of that have worked very well involve rivers running through the downtwon heart of a city or town. One concern I have about the River Project relative to downtown development is that it's just a bit too far away from 25th Street for people to consider it part of the same "downtown" area and I'm not sure Ogden can sustain two different "downtowns" at once. At least not yet. [Example: look what the Gateway development did to downtown SLC stores]. But we shall see. I'm not a city planner and haven't done any research on this. Just a vague unease about over-extending. Ogden is committed to the project now, though, and I hope it pans out as hoped or better. And [relatively] quickly."

When I attended the NLCT's convention in Reno, NV last month, I attended the mobile workshop to Sparks' beach front around their man-made lake. I was impressed with how Sparks has planned the business growth around the lake. A hotel that was in the first phase did not materialize so they did a location change and in Phase 2 have the commitment of a big, luxurious hotel. They also have two separate business areas: the original one that is along Main Street and the businesses around the lake. Along their Main Street, they have a Square done in Victorian-style and maybe a little smaller than what our Junction will be, but there were a lot of similarities, such as a plaza, open space with businesses surrounding it. They have several organized celebrations during the year, and their "Hot August Nights" are more successful and bigger than Reno's. I talked with the City Planner, whose father lives in South Ogden, and he says that he is here frequently. He said that he would be happy to share his experience with some of our City staff. He also said that he plays Mt. Ogden Golf Course every day while he is here.

I also have a thought on how we can connect the two shopping areas and really develop retail in the River Front project. In our transportation talks, there has been mention of a street car "City Loop." If the "Loop" were extended to the River Front properties it would be possible to connect the two shopping areas.

I think that when the Council discusses this, we should look at the loop going from Union Station east on 25th St., then north on Washington to the south side of the river, then west to Lincoln or Wall Ave., which ever is the best fit, then south to 25th St. and Union Station. I would like to see it be a free service to shoppers and tourists and the expense could perhaps be shared with Downtown Ogden, Inc. (merchants who will benefit from the sales and business generated because of the free and easy access to their business).

Just an idea for tying both shopping areas together. As I understand the City's agreement with Boyer, there would not be any duplication of stores and restaurants in such close proximity.

I think that Ogden has an opportunity to develop a unique down town area with a fantastic shopping center, plaza, parks, office buildings and restaurants. With the condos and residential offerings, a street car and bus transportation system connecting the City's hospitals and University, one could very literally live downtown, and never own a car, especially with Frontrunner connecting Ogden with Salt Lake.

We could be the first walkable city in Utah that I've seen Envision Utah promote as the city of the future. If we create some long-range plans for the growth of businesses, restaurants, etc., Ogden very well could be the most beautiful city and the place to live and shop. But it won't happen unless we make plans and deviate very little from them.

People will probably say that my ideas are too far-fetched. That happened when I was on the school board almost 30 years ago, but it's interesting that those concepts are seriously being considered NOW.

Curmudgeon said...

Ms. Jeske:

Thanks very much for your long and thoughtful reply. Could be I'm too rooted in thinking of Ogden pre-Frontrunner, and that its arrival will change the equation significantly. Couldn't agree more about the wisdom of looking at the experience of other cities with similar projects and how they worked [or didn't].

Mrs. Curmudgeon and I have made good use of "free zone" public transport in downtown areas with public transit [Portland, Salt Lake City, Denver]. Went everywhere without even thinking about retreiving, driving, parking the car to get from here to there. I do wonder if Ogden has the pop. density to carry something like that, but again, that may be pre-Frontrunner thinking. And of course the question of funding [in city, in County and UTA] comes into it too. Likely to be lots of competition for limited funds in that regard for the forseeable future. But, as they say, nothing ventured, nothing gained. But I would not favor a downtown loop instead of trolley tansit in the downtown/WSU/McKay-Dee corridor along Harrison as a priority project.

Thanks again.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
With all due respect to the City Council, I believe that they do not do any investigation on their own. They depend upon others to do the searhing out of material for them and then having administation digest it for them to vote on. These people need to look into these matters lthemselves instead opf taking Montgomery's and Cooks sya so on important questions. Aalso the Administration needs to give them final plans in plenty of time to do their research on them.

I'm wondering how much the amount of time and work demanded of the CC has increased in the past 5 or 10 years. At least recently, between CC and RDA business and work meetings, they have been working very long hours despite the fact that this is not a full-time job. For $8000/year, how much time can they take from their "mortgage-paying jobs" to research things. In a perfect world, they could trust the Administration and Mr. Cook to present all the necessary information to them. Sadly, this is a very imperfect situation where information is withheld or twisted. For example, did Ms Wicks ever learn exactly how much the city spent on the gondola proposal?

Dorrene Jeske said...

Ogdenlover, the last time I asked, the answer was, "No."

Curmudgeon, "the loop" is Mayor Godfrey's suggestion and is in addition to the trolly/street car route to WSU and McKay-Dee hospital. I asked if there were any consideration of going to Ogden Regional, and the answer was "No." but UTA and Wasatch Front Regional Council will consider whatever cities ask them to.

I would hope that we could draw shoppers and visitors from surrounding communities and perhaps western Wyoming and southern Idaho to Ogden if we do the retail in the Junction and River Front area. Our plans for development and growth should be with that goal in mind.

observer 1 said...

I like what Ms Jeske has to say. I was wondering about that very idea today....some kind of a shuttle that would take shoppers and visitors around town.

It seems that this would be a huge draw for locals and visitors, espeially those coming in on FrontRunner.

It's one thing to talk...another to plan...another to plan to make things happen in an orderly and economically feasible fashion.

Rick Safsten said...

First, I must apologize for a mistake I made yesterday. The council is, in fact, dealing with 2 (count 'em) rail platforms/canopies. Dorrene was exactly right in her posts. There is the new canopy/platform at the Frontrunner station at the intermodal hub and we are also dealing with renovating the old, original platform at the Union Station. My apologies to Dorrene--that will teach me to read my council notes too late.

In answer to Dan S.'s inquiry, my "no" vote related to the leadership vote for Vice-Chair. In short, I know that certain members of the council (not just one person)have not made any attempts to personally contact or communicate with the mayor in the last year. That is their choice, of course. However, I don't believe that choice is going to further good government in Ogden. Much could be said about the problems of communication in Ogden's government, but I believe that the Council can and could be the source of good communication practices. Curmudgeon's comments above regarding the Council being responsible for the Council's actions reflect my sentiments.

Much work has been done to enhance the communication within city hall and with the outside community, which is great. This effort could be further enhanced with improved individual effort--including myself.

sharon said...

Rick,

All that you've said is true. However, when the Administration has a project to push as vigorously as this mayor has pushed for the gondola...it behooves him to come before the Council with his 'plans', and not expect each of the Council members, individually, to meet with him!

Openness is a two-way street. And that 'openness' should be practiced in ALL departments.

(BTW, if the Council didn't have so MANY meetings, reading all your 'homework' in a timely fashion wouldn't be such a problem). Some other Councils in neighboring cities don't burden themselves with the amount of meetings that ours does. Might be a good thing to look at for the new year.

Anonymous said...

Regarding an in-city transit loop for shoppers and visitors, I don't think it would even have to be free. Just making it convenient would be great. I hate having to rummage for cash while I'm carrying packages. Paying a small fare ($1-$2) once and receiving a pass that would allow the rider to get on and off all day would make using it easy. It might even become a tourist attraction in itself. I've ridden the San Francisco streetcars and the Staten Island and New Orleans-Gretna Ferry just as a fun way to see the sights without having to concentrate on driving.

junebug said...

Can anybody confirm that the urban gondola is now an official no-go/dead deal? I can only hope. If that is the case, hopefully we can now switch our focus to the STREETCAR and move forward on that. Let's build on the momentum of the FrontRunner. Bring the streetcar back to Ogden. Originally the streetcar in Ogden used to run along the major corridors AND throughout the city's neighborhoods, and coincidently spurred development wherever it went. No reason why it can't do the same today, as it has done in other cities throughout the country.

dan s. said...

Before we all jump on the downtown-streetcar-loop bandwagon, let's remember that this isn't the only solution for connecting the River Project to the rest of downtown, and it might not be the best.

A few months ago I talked with a professional transit expert about this. He said that downtown loop services have had mixed success elsewhere. If the loop is one-way then inevitably, half of the time riders would prefer that the loop go the other way. For instance, if the route goes north on Washington Blvd. but not south, a visitor staying at the Ben Lomond Hotel can easily ride north to the Temple, but has to ride about eight extra blocks to get back (the long way around). Of course the loop could go both directions, but that costs twice as much. Loop services are almost always at least partially redundant, duplicating service on other routes that overlap, so they're often not cost effective.

Based on the studies that the experts have already done, it's clear that Ogden's first transit priority should be the streetcar running from downtown to WSU and McKay-Dee. A downtown loop would be one option for a second priority, but another option would be a streetcar running from downtown up to the ATC, with a stop at the River Project along the way. I'm inclined to prefer this option, but we really need to ask the experts to do some modeling and predict how the ridership and cost would compare.

Rick Safsten said...

The city council has never received any type of any written proposal from Mr. Peterson or anyone else, regarding any aspect of the "gondola proposal." Technically, the issue has not even been "birthed," let alone died. Of course, there have been 1,000+ discussions, community meetings, and presentations, but in the meantime, we are all speculating, wondering, and guessing.

The opinions about the gondola concept are varied--
Some want the everything and anything.
Some don't want any of it.
Some want everything but the urban gondola.
Some want everything but the foothills housing development.
Some want everything, if someone else pays for it.

I personally believe as a councilmember that it is difficult to be completely for, or against something, when you have zero details of the proposal. Also, if you a 100% in favor, or, in opposition of something before you receive any of the details, you lose the possibility of negotiating OUT the wrinkles or negotiating IN possible unforeseen benefits. So, I argue that there are some things that can be done now in preparation for the proposal, but until it comes, we won't be able to broach many of the real substantial discussions that will be necessary.

I am aware there are issues coming before the Planning Commission that obviously have some future relation to a possible development. I firmly believe that those proposals before the Planning Commission must stand on their merits with, or without a proposal. In other words, the Planning Commission should be able to make the decision on those things, whether, or not, a development proposal EVER comes before the city from Mr. Peterson.

Curmudgeon said...

Since the general topic seems to be long-range planning/growth/development in Ogden, I thought I'd mention this. I recall Mr. Mitch Moyes urging the Council Tuesday to begin planning for Frontrunner-related development at and near the station. This morning's Standard Examiner has a front-page story on Farmington's plans for commercial development at and around its Frontrunner station. [Intended to include a link here, but the SE digital edition is being persnickity about providing one this morning. Story's on the front page, below the fold. Can't miss it.]

I know, I know, Ogden's main downtown development is the Junction. Just noting the Farmington piece by way of information, and an example of how other towns are handling Frontrunner-related development, and wondering how Ogden intends to deal with the station area and related matters.

Lots of stuff on lots of plates in Ogden government just now [planning commission, Council, Mayor's office]-- short-term, mid-range and long-term.

junebug said...

It seems to me that the station area plans in Ogden that Curm refers to have been likely put on the back-burner, if there are indeed any plans, over the past year or two because the focus of the City has largely been on the Gondola and other items. Although lots of "stuff" is on Ogden's plate right now, seems like more should be done.

Anonymous said...

How is it that one person not even a citizen of Ogden can tie up council business the way Mr Peterson has. Is he a developer, construction man, or just a plain old mudraker,

Nancy

Dorrene Jeske said...

I have found in my busy life that prioritizing and organizing are a necessity if I am to fulfill my leadership responsibilities and present a quality program, product, etc. I think that we, on the Council, could initiate the action to start making plans for the Intermodal Hub and the coming of the Frontrunner instead of waiting for Planning and the Administration to bring it to us. Just my thoughts, and I'm only one Council member, and for all I know, Planning may already have some ideas for the Hub and we haven't received them yet.

We do have a joint goal-setting session with the Administration planned in the near future and I think that this would be a great place to start.

Curmudgeon said...

Councilwoman Jeske:

Once again, thanks for keeping us posted. Appreciate it.

Rick Safsten said...

Frankly, right now, the Council is spending very little time on the gondola or anything related to it. For proof, I would suggest that you read our agendas for the past 3 months. That will change when/if we receive a development agreement and as things come to us from the Planning Commission that may be related in some way to the gondola proposal.

dan s. said...

Peterson hasn't (yet) "tied up council business", if by "business" we mean agendas of regular meetings. However, he has tied up a lot of other city resources. You should see the stack of documents I have, showing all the correspondence that's gone back and forth between the Planning Department, the City Attorney's office, and Peterson's attorney (Ellison). Also some correspondence between Ellison and the City Council staff, indicating that they've spent quite a bit of time in meetings together. Then there's all the Discovery Ogden stuff that the City Council staff have been putting together, and at least three Council work sessions so far, not to mention the huge amounts of time invested by the mayor and his senior staff.

Some of this investment will pay off even after the Peterson proposal dies. Examples include the Mt. Ogden Community Plan and the development of a mixed use zoning ordinance. To the extent that the Peterson proposal has motivated citizens to become educated and get involved in these processes, it's been a good thing. Even in these cases, though, there remains a grave danger that the Peterson proposal will skew the outcome in a direction that the city never would have chosen otherwise, and that's bad for the city as a whole.

Most of the investment in the Peterson proposal has been a waste of resources, and has diverted attention from other needs. The most obvious example is that the urban gondola "proposal" has stalled progress on the streetcar for a full year and a half. During this time, Ogden's credibility with UTA has plummeted, while Salt Lake County has demonstrated that it's ready to move forward on more transit improvements. Where this puts Ogden in terms of priority for UTA attention and federal funding, I'm not sure--but the current situation doesn't look good.

Rick Safsten said...

Dan,

My response was to the entry talking about how the gondola issue has supposidly tied up the Council. Your points regarding the time spent by the administration and some council staff is certainly correct, but other city issues have kept us plenty busy. Our council meetins agendas have not revolved around the gondola, of late.

We recently had a worksession with UTA. The outcome from that was that virtually all Federal Funding coming into the state for several years (10 years, I believe) is already encumbered on existing projects. If Ogden really wants new public transportation paid for through tax monies in the immediate future, it will have to come from a county-wide tax increase.

We can get in line for future public transportation projects, but it was not clear to me from the UTA statements that we are, or are not, hurting our chances for public transportation funding in the future by not having projects put together now. The complex selection critereon, environmental impact studies, and plain old politics makes the timing question very muddy.

There is no time like the present for discussion or future planning, of course, but we are all going to be alot older before any streetcars will rumble through Ogden, I believe, because of the Federal Funding cash shortages for any new projects.

Anonymous said...

Rick Safsten in regards to your post at 11:33am,

I agree with you that we can't make any decisions until we have something to look at. I also agree that we can't ignore issues before the Planning Commission and that the proposed revisions to our ordinances need to be considered.

That said, I do feel that the timing and motivation of the timing requires the city to consider that whatever we do with regards to any modifications to our ordinances be site specific and those specific sites be identified by the Planning Commission and be incorporated in this modification recommendations to the City Council (City Council having the right to include or exclude specific sites from the modified ordinance as they may choose).

The Planning Commission has indicated the need for these changes as being relevant to several areas within the city, so specific identification and inclusion of those specific sites or areas into the document should not present a problem for the Planning Commission. This will allow the city to address the modifications to the ordinances and also allow the city to apply these modifications only to those specific locations where the city chooses or feels that it needs to apply these modifications.

Any future projects in other specific areas of the city that would then be consider for application of this modified ordinance would then be required to be reviewed separately and with the understanding that the requirements for the future project may be different and more restrictive then the standards that exist with the modified ordinance. Also that any future projects that would seek application of this modified ordinance to a specific area of the city not already included in the original ordinance, would be required to receive both the Planning Commission and the City Council approval of the site and the acceptance of their modifications to the application of the ordinance.

This allows the city to address those areas of the city where modifications to the ordinances are possibly needed, if that is determined and yet it won’t open the door for other projects that are not yet defined.

Two observation, the mixed use ordinance as proposed is not a mixed use ordinance. It’s simply a no-zone zoning ordinance which isn’t what we need, either call it for what it is and explain why we need such a zone or come up with a mixed use zoning ordinance that resembles those used by other cities. True mixed use zones generally address applications such as our River Project and the transition of an older section of a community to a more current living environment. Recycling of the older parts of the community, so to speak. Ogden needs such a zone. Send the planning staff back to do their job and come up with a legitimate mixed use zoning ordinance.

Second, let’s learn from other local communities surrounding Ogden that have recently had to deal with sensitive overlay issues before we modify our ordinance. Request our city engineering department to convene with and report back to the City Council with their findings from those meetings with other communities as it pertains to these matters before we consider any modification of our ordinances. The Council could establish the standards that they feel should be applied to the city based on the findings of the engineering department’s meeting and the Council should then have the planning department incorporated those recommendations into the modified ordinance. I would hate for the city to issue new guidelines only to have to modify these guidelines two years later.

dan s. said...

Councilman Safsten:

The transit funding situation is indeed muddy, so it's hard to say anything with certainty. However, you may recall that just over a year ago, you received a letter from UTA stating that a streetcar could be constructed in as little as seven years with a new source of revenue, or in 10-15 years without. Since then, UTA has apparently changed its position and now says that the streetcar can't happen at all without a new revenue source. In other words, during the year and a half that the city has delayed since the results of the corridor study were announced, the UTA funding situation has gotten worse, not better.

Although I'm speculating, I strongly suspect that Salt Lake County has had a lot to do with this shift. Getting federal funding requires full support and cooperation at the state-wide level, especially from our Congressional delegation. UTA plays a major role in prioritizing projects for support at this level. Now put yourself in UTA's position. One county is putting its money on the table, saying they're ready for more transit and willing to help pay for it. Another county is not only unwilling to help pay, but saying they'll build their own transit system whether UTA cooperates or not. Hmmm. I wonder which project UTA will get behind, and ask our Congressional delegation to support?

Now let's raise a hypothetical. What if the urban gondola had never been proposed? Then there's a good chance that the downtown-WSU corridor study would have been completed a year earlier, since they wouldn't have had to wait for the Gardner gondola feasibility study. So the streetcar recommendation could have come out in summer of 2004, long before Salt Lake County was close to passing a tax increase for transit. If Ogden had gotten behind a streetcar recommendation at that time, it would have been much easier to get UTA's full attention and a higher prioritization at the state level. We might then have asked for a federal match of more than 50%, since the streetcar is a small enough project to be eligible for up to 80% federal match. This might have made the streetcar possible without a county-wide tax increase, or at least, it might have delayed the need for a tax increase until we wanted to expand the streetcar system sometime in the future.

Yeah, I'm dreaming. Who knows what would have happened without the gondola? But even if you dismiss all my speculations, you gotta admit that the gondola has delayed the streetcar for at least two years relative to when we would have had it.

Anonymous said...

Councilman Safsten,

If our mayor would talk to other mayors in the other Weber County communities, maybe he could show them the mass transit vision that would first start in Ogden with a movement from the Frontrunner to WSU/Hospital and then evolve into a bigger solution for the entire county. With their support, we could get the additional sales tax needed to get this project rolling. Any solution has to start somewhere and in Weber County, Ogden would be the logical starting point.

Dorrene Jeske said...

As I recall from our meeting with UTA and the Wasatch Front Regional Council a short time ago, Councilwoman Wicks asked if the City were hurting itself by delaying a decision on a specific mode of transportation. The answer was "Yes." That the longer we delayed getting on UTA's list, we were putting ourselves at risk for an even longer delay for funds. Also, I believe that they said that we could on the list and then work out the details. They suggested that we put forth some kind of plan and get on the list as soon as possible. But as far as I know the subject was never brought up again and no one has done anything to start things moving. It could be a lack of funds. I know there is no money in this year's budget for it, so it may be one of the issues we address in next year's budget. If it is not already in next year's budget, I will ask that we budget for submission of a plan so that we are placed on UTA's list.

Dorrene Jeske said...

Anonymous, you are right on about involving other communities in a mass transit plan. There was one plan that had the street car starting at 1700 N. in North Ogden and along Washington and out Riverdale Road to 300 West. I think that it should cross the railroad tracks and at the least go as far as Target and Macy's on Riverdale Road. My preference would be to run it to 1900 W. and 5600 S. or to Roy High School. The Wasatch Front Regional Council was suggesting that we involve Riverdale to obtain support for a bond to fund the street car. He felt that no matter which option we chose, we would need to bond for it and we would need the County's support.

Anonymous said...

Dorrene,

Thank you for your acknowledgement of what I think is a logical action for our mayor to be take and thank you for representing us on the City Council. Your courage and conviction to do what is right for the community is an inspiration to all of us. Keep up the good work.

observer 1 said...

I'm not so sure that the gondola 'issue' is dead...in fact, Dan S has it right. He apparantly has PAGES of correspondence between the very interested parties AND Council staff that proves the gondola is not on the mayor's back burner.

We haven't heard anything from the Geiger guys OR Peterson OR Ellison. Why not? I think it's because the sale of the golf course and adjacent lands is pretty nearly a 'done deal'.

The Council STILL HAS NOT reinstated their own authority that was handed over to the mayor by the last Council.

We should not be complacent. These lyin' dogs ain't sleeping.

Curmudgeon said...

Two interesting items in this morning's Standard Examiner.

First, daily round-trip shuttle service between downtown Ogden and the ski resorts of the Upper Ogden Valley [aka historically "Ogden's Hole"] begins this week. Service to Wolf Mountain, Powder Mountain and Snow Basin. Story here. The story is, inexplicably, buried deep in the Top of Utah section. It does not seem to be available in the free on-line edition at all. Seems to me, this one might have merited front page of the TOU section.

Second: Layton has imposed a downtown development moratorium much like the one the Ogden Council just imposed on the River Project area, and for the same reasons... to prevent development inconsistent with long-range goals until a long-range plan covering downtown development can be completed [which it is expected to be shortly.] Story here.

Anonymous said...

To address Curmudeon's second interesting item found in today's SE,

Put two and two together will you guys. City administration want eminent domain. City is writing a resolution to support state legisalation to bring back eminent domain and wants city council to approve it. State legislators to start meeting during the next 6 months and plans on bringing up eminent domain. Only two reasons why ogden city would want emeinent domain, to have RDA buy up all of river project land with city residents money and to accommodate the need to use the powers of eniment domain should the city go ahead with the urban gondola. Gondola can't be built without taking out a few homes and businesses.

Big questions for our city council should be, does the city support, need and want eminent domain? Does the city think that the best way to use city dollars is to buy river project property through the RDA (using ED) and then dish it out selectively to specific developers (those politically connected) as opposed to just using good zoning ordinances with a well planned master design for the area and letting the the free marketplace and local residents develop the area to city standards?

I would hope that the answer to both questions above would be NO.

Anonymous said...

To City Council,

Stop smelling the flowers and wake up!

The administration has you writing checks for things that we don't have the money for.

If you don't stop we will need to sell the golf course and every other piece of property or park the city owns just to get ourselves back in financial balance. The administration will be quick to point the finger at the Council. The administration will recommend selling assets as opposed to raising taxes thus he will win. The council will have two options, raise taxes or sell off assets (and there goes the golf course)!

Quit committing the city to spending money we don't have. The ball park, moving St. Anne’s Shelter, RDA investment in the river project, additional modification to the Junction project just to name a few. Some of these projects are worthy but we can’t afford them at this time. Some may need to be put off until we have the funds to move forward. Just because they come before you doesn’t mean that you have to say yes. Know how much money the city has to spend before you commit to spend!

We need to get a handle on where we are on the projects that we currently have under construction. Are we on budget with the Junction and if not how much over budget are we? Same goes for the river project. If they aren’t on budget now, how will this affect the city’s financials five years out? We over counted the revenues from the Shupe Williams building, how has this affected our financial picture?

Stop robbing funds from one department to cover the shortfall of another department or project. This just covers up bad management and cost overruns. How can you ever know whether you made a good investment or a bad one if you don’t know what you paid for it or what it costs you to operate it?

Please get a handle on where the city is financially before you spend any more of our money. The fact that we may be able to bond or borrow more is not justification or validation that we are in good financial shape (Plenty of people that are over their heads financially are still able to get more credit cards, the same is true for a city).

Please take control!

Anonymous said...

Re: Anonymous at 11:25 AM

I keep getting the feeling that the City is spending the same income (or anticipated income) more than once. Yes, we really do need a handle on all this spending and investment.

I'm sure it's not related, but when my street which used to be plowed by 10AM after a snowfall is not plowed until late afternoon, it does make me wonder.

mercy said...

it isn't that we'll have to sell the golf course, anon...that little project is further along than we know....and the deal isn't to help Ogden, it's to line the pockets of a 'wanna be developer' with the initials CP AND ASSOCIATES!!

WHERE is the white knight mayoral candidate? TV ads used to ask: "it's 10 pm, do you know where your son/dtr is?"

It's very late, do we know where our liberator mayor is????

Monotreme said...

Curmudgeon:

The shuttle service (according to the S-E article) is only by "subscription", that is, the hotels will apparently include it as part of a package deal that includes lift tickets and lodging.

While I think it's a great idea, I still "stand all amazed" that Ogden doesn't have mass transit of some sort between a central parking lot and a ski resort.

Even more incredible is that certain elements would tout a "mass-less" transit solution (the gondola) when the proof of principle has not bee tried. It seems to me that bus or shuttle service which has been running at a profit is necessary as a first condition to any sort of gondola.

Yet, mass transit to Ogden Valley ski areas is still deemed not economically feasible (again, in today's S-E article).

(As a newcomer to Ogden, I was excited to hike up to the top of Mt. Ogden and ride the Snowbasin gondola down my first summer here. Imagine my chagrin when I found that there is no way to get back to Ogden from there! Having ridden the UTA buses up and down the Cottonwood Canyons, I assumed the same service was available here, too. I ended up taking a $50 cab ride, an expensive lesson.)

If we can't make money running a bus to Snowbasin, then how can we make money with a gondola going there? (Of course, it won't go there, but I'm just asking a hypothetical question.)

Curmudgeon said...

Mono:

UTA tells me that the bulk of the riders on the SLC Cottonwood Canyons ski bus service are workers at the various resorts served. And the service is partially subsidized too [I mean beyond the UTA subsidy as public transit.] I don't think anybody has shown that the volume traffic is there for fully public Ogden-to-Resorts service. Yet. If the shuttle runs build a ridership over the trial period [apparently three years], if it can be established that the traffic is there, I have no doubt UTA will eventually provide the service. As for not making money on an Ogden to resorts route... well, my understand is that no public transit route in Utah actually makes money. All of them are subsidized by UTA. Some require lower subsidies than others, but none actually make money.

UTA used to run busses up into the Upper Ogden Valley [aka Ogden's Hole] some years ago, but I think the service was dropped for insufficient ridership.

Curmudgeon said...

Mono:

Been thinking more on you post about profit-making ski area transit. And I remembered that the UTA has told the mayor it does not consider the urban gondola [downtown to WSU] a "public tranist" project. And so will not subsidize its operation if it is built. Meaning the city will have to be responsible for operations costs entirely. So if it does not turn a profit... and so far we've seen no study that suggests it will or even can... city taxpayers will have to make up the difference. Glad you reminded me of that.

dan s. said...

Curm:

It's a little more complicated than that. Actually, UTA has told the mayor that the gondola would meet the basic definition of transit and therefore would not automatically be disqualified from some level of UTA support. However, it seems pretty clear that any such support will be minimal. The mayor asked for $8 million and then withdrew that request, presumably because he knew he wasn't gonna get it. Now it sounds like the most they would give is the cost savings from cutting the frequency of the 603 bus route. They would also, presumably, cooperate in accepting transfers between the gondola and the FrontRunner. But before they cooperate at all, UTA has insisted that the mayor answer a bunch of questions about costs, operations, and risks--and so far, he doesn't seem to want to answer these sorts of questions. Imagine that.

So without any significant support from UTA, who would pay for the gondola? As you know, the mayor claims that the city's only cost would be whatever we make from the sale of the 175 acres of park land he wants to sell to Peterson (115 acres in golf course, 60 acres of undeveloped land and trails). The claim is that private donations would cover the rest of the construction cost, and Peterson himself would absorb the operating and maintenance expenses (less any revenue from ticket sales). But it doesn't take much of a skeptic to foresee that these promises will be broken, and the taxpayers will be left holding the bag. The city would own the gondola, and therefore the city would ultimately be responsible for all costs. The estimated long-term cost of the system is $8 million per year--roughly half for operations and maintenance, and the other half for long-term capital equipment replacements and upgrades.

Curmudgeon said...

Dan:
Thanks for the correction, and for filling in the detail.

Anonymous said...

What the mayor doesn't want to address either is the infrastructure costs (sewer, water, strom run off, roads, snow removal, police and fire services, etc.) required by the city to develop and maintain those 175 acres. More than likely at the end of the day the city will spend all (and maybe more) of the dollars received from the sale of the property for infrastructure improvements to allow for the development. Those required expenditures will be spread out over all of the various departments to hide the cost but at the end of the day those costs will should up in additional debt that the city has to take on and in higher total taxes to the residents. Thus I think Dan's cost numbers for the gondola project and annual operating costs to the city could be low.

dan s. said...

Anon:

Absolutely. The cost numbers I gave were for the urban gondola itself, not for any other costs or impacts of the Peterson project.

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