Park City Council Discusses Affordability, Environment And Regional Issues At Retreat

Feb 13, 2020

Park City Councilmembers met for their annual retreat at the Park City Library Community room. David Beurle from Future I.Q. moderated the discussion around Park City's 2020 visioning process.
Credit KPCW Radio

The Park City Council met Thursday for the first day of its annual retreat. 

Coming off its last, major visioning event, the Park City Council dove into four of six so-called “strategic pillars” from its 2020 visioning process. The pillars are major themes that have arisen from the months-long process and are accompanied by suggested actions and policies to help Park City reach its preferred future, which community members have defined as “embracing bold change.” The council discussed affordability and equity; environmental leadership; transportation innovation and regional synergy.

On affordability and equity, councilmembers debated the city’s role. The city does provide funding to nonprofit organizations through special service contracts, but the council wondered whether it should support organizations already addressing equity and inclusion issues or if the city should lead the way. Councilmember Becca Gerber says, in some ways, the city is in the best position to lead the way, instead of waiting for outside forces to fill in the gaps.

“We look at Breckenridge, who is using city tax dollars to help support their childhood and subsidize their child care—maybe that's something we should at least have a conversation about," Gerber said. "Because we can ... tell them that we're supporting them all we want, but until we're actually supporting financially, it's going to be hard to move some of these needles.”

In terms of environmental leadership, the council discussed potential actions, such as becoming a zero waste community—an idea that most community members supported at this week’s Future Summit event. Gerber commented that not everything Park City does supports its sustainability goals, like building large homes with big carbon footprints, or encouraging consumer culture through tourism. Park City Mayor Andy Beerman says the city should embrace its hypocrisy and continue to make good on sustainable initiatives it can control.

“Let's go we’re purists," Beerman said. "Let's say we all stop having children; we get rid of our worldly goods and we move into caves. We’re going to make no dent in the world. That's going to make no difference. Instead, we can use our resources. We can use our influence to prove what is possible and to show that to other people.”

The last strategic pillar the council discussed was regional synergy, the idea that Park City should bring together regional partners to address large-scale issues, such as growth, transportation and housing. Councilmember Tim Henney isn’t sure if Park City needs to be a leader on this or if the city should simply be a willing, collaborative partner in the region. Henney says Park City often steps into a leadership role because the city feels the impacts of those issues, but he believes another entity should take it on.

“The county government is our regional authority," Henney said. "The county government should take leadership in regional collaboration—initiating dialogues, conversations programs, mechanisms. It's there. It exists, but they aren't doing it, so it defaults to us, or the impacts are so focused on us that they say, 'yeah, that's Park City’s deal, and we’ll let them do it.'”

The council discusses the final two pillars, sustainable tourism and local economic development, Friday. The city will present the results of the 2020 visioning process and a strategic plan to the community at the State of Park City address on March 3.