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Legislative Updates


November 16, 2021

Greetings!  Looks like I’m at it again, trying to get a regular online commentary going on what’s happening in the rapidly changing world of community planning and land use regulation in our fair state of Utah (oops, I mean pretty, great state!).  I’ve been urged on by my colleagues at the Utah Land Use Institute to do so again as a way to provide another way for all those who may have an interest in land use to keep in touch with what’s happening, and provide a place for that information to have another outlet.  So here we go!

What I want to write about in this first posting for this new blog is all the attention that is being paid again to growth and planning in Utah, mainly as a result of our rapid growth (fastest in the nation over the last 10 years!)  Such a pace usually focuses attention on what’s changing and happening in our communities because of this rapid growth, with a recent poll showing that a majority of Utahns thinking that we are growing too fast!

All this worry is being put on steroids by what’s happening with housing and affordability, causing everyone from local communities, chambers of commerce, and state officials and elected leaders to weigh in on what can be done about this.

In the past, when we’ve had such high levels of attention focused on growth, there have been groups and bodies that have taken the lead, like the Quality Growth Commission back in the 90’s, Envision Utah, the Land Use Task Force, and more recently, the Housing Gap Coalition and the Commission on Housing Affordability.

There is a body that has recently been created that really seems to be taking a more “holistic” view of the growth issues and has the involvement of high-level leadership from all corners – the Unified Economic Opportunity Commission.  Placed under the care of the Governor’s Office of Economic Opportunity, it would seen to be primarily focused on traditional economic development strategies and activities.  While it still does play that role, the Commission members, which include the Governor, Legislative leadership, state cabinet members, and local government leadership, have seemed to recognize the impact business growth and recruitment has on other growth-related issues.  If there is anybody at the state level that now seems to be taking a more careful look at growth and how to plan for it, it seems to be this one.  The recognition of this role has even led to a proposal for the upcoming legislative session to move the Commission on Housing Affordability from being housed in the Department of Workforce Services to the GOEO.

To make my case, have a listen to the latest meeting of the UEOC.  I think you’ll agree that, with it’s heavy hitter membership, this may be the place for future discussions about state-level growth planning policies may get some legs.

Wilf Sommerkorn’s take on the latest in Utah land-use politics and law.

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