Why Salt Lake City residents should care about SB234

March 13, 2018
Contact: Dan Weist or Molly Farmer, Council Communication
937 305-8891

Why should Salt Lake City residents care about SB234, which creates an independent Inland Port Authority in the City’s Northwest Quadrant?

Overall, the State Legislature’s Inland Port Authority bill is bad for Salt Lake City. It takes away the City’s control for a quarter of the City’s land area, an area larger than most other incorporated Cities in Utah, and also sets a dangerous precedent for what other cities and residents throughout Utah could also stand to lose.

Here are the top 3 reasons the bill falls short:

  1. Forces City taxpayers to subsidize State’s Inland Port

    • Puts the financial burden only on City taxpayers.
    • Typically, in areas like the Northwest Quadrant, as property owners develop land, property taxes will grow. The increase in revenue is used to pay for the increasing City services needed to support the additional development.
    • With the new bill, the Inland Port Authority can keep up to 100 percent of the increase in property taxes produced from new development for the next 25 years, and spend the money outside of Salt Lake City.
    • That’s more than $500 million over the next 25 years that will be siphoned away from Salt Lake City and other taxing agencies like the school district and libraries to pay for the Port project.
    • With no additional revenue to fund critical services, Salt Lake City is still responsible for policing the area, putting out fires, responding to emergency medical situations and maintaining roads, among other duties.
    • This means residents in the remaining ¾ of the City will unfairly have to pay for the privilege of providing municipal services in the ¼ of the City covered by the Port Authority.
  2. Tramples on local authority for planning and zoning

    • Undercuts both the City’s zoning decisions and the ability to plan for and guide where and how growth occurs in the Northwest Quadrant.
    • Currently, property owners work with the City when developing and expanding businesses and buildings. The City uses established building and safety codes, land use and planning zones, and master plans to guide that development. This prevents incompatible uses, like a correctional facility and a preschool, from being next door to each other.
    • Under the new bill, an Inland Port Authority could decide to allow conditional uses, like animal raising and stockyards, recycling and waste processing, correctional facilities, and asphalt manufacturing – all without notice or consideration of properties next door.
    • SB234 affects about 19,500 acres – one-quarter of all the land within City boundaries.
      • That’s more than 30 square miles, larger in area than most incorporated cities in Utah. That’s about the same size as the entire city of West Jordan, or the size of Sandy and South Salt Lake combined, with room to spare.
      • It’s an area that has been planned and zoned and fits within the City’s existing process for all of these types of requests.
    • The bill also removes the City’s ability to effectively enforce zoning complaints in the area, because those complaints can also be overturned by the new Inland Port Authority.
  3. Creates a separate and unaccountable quasi-government

    • Takes local government’s role and gives it to an unaccountable quasi-governmental board.
    • The majority of the 11-member board are not elected officials.
    • This adds another layer of government that is ultimately not accountable to any voters.
    • In other cases, State law wisely provides for notice and transparency requirements on all government land use and spending actions.
      • This legislation requires none of that by the Board, and in fact contradicts state law, and maybe even the state constitution.
    • No document – like a business plan – is in place to guide and establish the new board’s activity, role, or development viewpoint.

Despite exhaustive efforts to work in good faith with legislators to find middle ground, local concerns were ignored. The worst-possible version of the bill was pushed through in a matter of minutes near the end of the Legislative Session.

This sets the precedent for this to happen to any City with an area with Economic Development potential. Now is the time to make your voice heard that this is not OK.



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