Recently, thousands of Herriman, Riverton and South Jordan residents petitioned, emailed, and begged the Salt Lake County Council to reconsider and reduce the density of the Olympia Hills development. The council, in a vote of 6-3, voted to defy the will of the people and approved the project anyway.
How did this happen? Turns out, most of the council members do not live in the area in question. The current County Mayor lives in Salt Lake City, and too few understand that the consent of the governed is an American principal.
Unfortunately, the problem of county overreach extends beyond land and zoning. It also applies to taxation and the allocation of taxpayer funding.
1) Elect new officials who will respect the will of the people. When I was mayor, we had a controversial golf-course that was losing money. At the time, I advocated for it to be sold and have Hale Theatre put in its place. My constituents spoke out and so we decided to conduct a survey. We found that nearly 60% of the residents wanted to keep Mulligans but also did not want their taxes raised to do so. In response to the survey, we were able to save Mulligans by paying off the bond on the land.
Of course, there may be times like war, or emergencies, where a leader must exercise a "profile in courage", and act without knowing the will of the people. However, in 99% of the situations, representatives should represent their constituents. The people must always be considered supreme.
2) No more games for taxpayer money. I am happy to announce that Lincoln Fillmore and I are in talks to work on legislation to change the outdated ZAP law from the 1990s and make its awards more equitable. If the money were put on a per capita basis, we'd see more than 3 million dollars go to each city and township depending on their population. This would make things much more fair and would take the politics out of it. Cities could then do what they wish with the money each year.
Did you know that cities hire lobbyist just to get access to money their residents have already paid into? I will work to end this silly and wasteful practice.
3) Pass legislation that requires developments to be only approved in annexed cities. Unincorporated land should be brought into a city before zone changes or developments are approved. That way, local leaders can plan and negotiate directly with the developer, and the people whose traffic and schools will be most effected will have a say. Even without the legislation, the County Council could easily make this a defacto policy, or county policy going forward. As the legislative body we could simply vote "no" on any project that is not incorporated into a city or township with zoning rights. As a former mayor, this issue is dear to my heart.