Promoting Livability

The Cambridge Dictionary defines livability as “the degree to which a place is suitable or good for living in.” As it applies to Park City, really it’s a question if we are focusing enough on locals/permanent residents or are we too focused on driving tourism? Clearly both are important. Another question to ponder is how 2nd homeowners play into the mix. The last numbers I saw showed around 70-80% of homes in Park City are not primary residences. That is a huge percentage. While locals should make the final decisions, should we ignore people who spend a significant amount of the year in town completely just because they’re not registered to vote in Park City? Many 2nd homeowners become full time residents eventually, perhaps a mechanism for them to voice opinions would bring new ideas/solutions to the table as well.

A good example of livability is around sidewalks and pedestrian safety. Things that weren’t a problem historically are becoming a problem now with the increase in vehicle traffic. In some neighborhoods where there are no sidewalks or multi-use paths, which means there are families, kids, bikers, etc. sharing the road with drivers who may not be aware of the possibility. It wasn’t too long ago there were some fatal accidents in Park City involving pedestrians. They were reported to be for various reasons, but either way that is completely unacceptable and must be addressed. If we want to become a car-optional place to live we need to make sure people feel safe and comfortable not being in a car on our roads. Another huge livability issue centers around traffic lights, stop signs, and gridlock. This is one that similar to lacking sidewalks did not used to be as much of a problem as it has become (except historically for a few days a year).

The bus line is another example. We should work with the other regional transit authorities and ensure we are providing service to our locals not just drawing routes to serve hotels, Main Street, and the ski resorts. There are ongoing discussions now about service outside Park City through High Valley Transit, and the services that were reduced/eliminated over the past year due to pandemic budget cuts are ramping back up. Reductions to service generally leads to more personal vehicle traffic, no matter the reason. We should also explore more robust service within Park City to serve our neighborhoods better, our transit system has to be more than a tourist and employee shuttle if we expect real impact.

Lastly, water conservation is a big topic this year, more so than ever with the dry winter and expected dry summer. We need to come up with options for our community to replace their yards with xeriscape or other low water options if they so choose, maybe there could be a subsidy from Park City to help pay landscaping cost with little fiscal impact by offsetting water delivery costs, or approved vendors so they can volume price the work based on a guarantee. To the resident it is cheaper in many cases to just keep paying high water bills, which doesn’t address the root of the issue in terms of environmental impact.

With growth there are new challenges to analyze and solve, it can’t be the traditional way of doing things over and over. I will represent our community in terms of the discussed issues and the many more out there. We need to promote our sense of community, maintain our local pride, and keep Park City the best place to live for generations to come!