David Rodeback's Blog

Local Politics and Culture, National Politics,
Life Among the Mormons, and Other Stuff

Previous Post          Printer-Friendly Version          Next Post


Thursday, September 14, 2006
My Neighbors, Gas Prices, a Correction, and . . . Somebody Needs to Read the Law

My politically active neighbors get along. Oak Norton actually lives in Highland. Some American Fork landlords are trying to get sued. And CostCo is lowering local gasoline prices. But the longer version is . . . more fun. Or at least longer.

I've had a pretty good bout of LBB the last couple of weeks, and I'm still trying to catch up. So forgive me for sweeping a lot of housekeeping, so to speak, into the same post, but here are some accumulated observations -- one long, one medium, and two short (not necessarily in that order).

My Neighbors Do Local Politics Right

There is a subdivision (technically a subdivision, but really an inner-block development) proposed in the block bounded by 100 and 200 South and 200 and 300 West in American Fork. It's somewhat controversial, though not bitterly so like the 900 West thing this summer. Several of the neighbors are selling some land, which is good for their pocketbooks. They don't have millions at stake, like Wade Carson, but for at least some of them the amount of money is still significant.

All are concerned that it not turn into the mess that certain other nearby inner block developments have become. They don't seem determined to stop the development from happening at all, just insistent that it be done in a way that doesn't further jeopardize a fragile, old neighborhood. (Amen to that.) One of the neighbors, a former mayor, has a plan to adjust the development in such a way as to minimize certain risks to the neighborhood. Several of the neighbors endorse the plan. One or two are simply concerned that there be a good fence. And so forth.

The matter came before the Planning Commission last week. (I wasn't there, but I've talked to some who were.) A host of neighbors had their say, one by one. They didn't all agree, but they were all polite and civil. Then the developer's turn came, and he commented that he's been to a lot of meetings like that where a lot of neighbors were present and has never seen such civility. Reportedly, even the Planning Commission itself was uniformly respectful, which doesn't always happen.

Whatever happens in the end, I'll wager there will be a few folks at least a little disappointed. But I doubt there will be any bitter, long-term grudges. These folks go to church together -- except two or three who don't go there much, but are still excellent people -- and they've lived in the neighborhood together for years. That hasn't prevented trouble elsewhere in the city lately, but somehow, perhaps by necessity or by their good natures or both, these people have figured out how to disagree without being disagreeable.

In fact, they're all in my ward (congregation) -- including the former mayor I mentioned and the current chair of the Planning Commission, who ran against each other some years ago; including a member of the City Council who was present in the audience and will eventually vote on the matter; including a fellow from the City Engineer's office, himself a former Planning Commissioner, who participated in the discussion. Many of those who are not current or former officials are nonetheless quite firm in their opinions. (Yes, that's a euphemism for stubborn.) So there's plenty of potential for rancor, but you'd never know it by just listening to them relate to each other at church or elsewhere. There are times and places for politics, and other times and places where politics does not belong. In my humble neighborhood, at least last week, we knew the difference.

If I as their neighbor and ecclesiastical leader said I am proud of them, I would sound as if I were taking credit for them, which wouldn't be right. They were this way long before I moved to their neighborhood. So let it suffice that I am pleased, very pleased indeed. And impressed.

Nicely done, neighbors.

My Bad: The Man Is Actually a Highlander

I've been rooting for local math curriculum warrior Oak Norton for quite a while now, and I've identified him once or twice here at the blog as an American Forker. He recently corrected that in an e-mail -- thanks -- in which he told me he really lives in Highland. I'm still rooting for him.

Ignorance of the Law Is . . . Whatever

The combined experiences of a lot of folks I know who have tried to rent apartments in northern Utah County suggests that there are some landlords out there who either have never read the Utah Fair Housing Act or its federal counterpart, or who don't think such laws apply to them, or who just don't think they'll get caught. Apparently, for example, it's especially difficult for a family with a teenage girl to rent an apartment. Having been a teenage boy, I would have thought the boys would be a bigger problem in a landlord's view. Do teenage girls party at home that much more than teenage boys?

(I mean "party" in its purest sense, of course, with moderately loud music, non-alcoholic beverages, and boys and girls never so close together that you couldn't wedge a Book of Mormon between them. . . . Which puts me in mind of the Book of Mormon I used to take with me to church dances as a youth. It was on microfiche, comparable in size to, but actually thinner that, a credit card. But I digress.)

Here's an excerpt from the Utah fair housing folks' Web site (see the link above):

Under the Utah and Federal Fair Housing Acts, you have the right to rent, purchase, or finance housing without discrimination based on your race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status (families with children under 18), or disability. Additionally, under the Utah Fair Housing Act, you also have the right to select housing regardless of your source of income (for example, if you receive state, local, or federal government assistance, including housing vouchers).

It's not just that I hear stories. More often than you'd think, I get a call from a landlord about prospective tenants who have lived in my LDS ward (congregation). Did they attend church regularly? they'll ask. Do they have current temple recommends? As their bishop, of course, I would know and notice such things.

. . . Which doesn't mean I'll rat them out to the random landlady du jour. "Do you realize that by asking such questions you're violating state and federal law?" I sometimes respond. Then, in the silence that follows, I will note simply that I know the prospective tenants, or know them well, or don't. If it's true, I might say something positive like, "I think they're good people. I wish they weren't moving."

I myself am not filing any complaints. I have no standing to do so, and, even if I did, I have other fish to fry. (Well, to broil -- it's healthier and tastes better.) So far, none of the people I know who've noticed the problem have filed complaints, either. But sooner or later someone will, and then either the aggrieved prospective tenant or the landlord's lawyer may end up being the new landlord.

Thank You, CostCo

On one hand, I don't have a CostCo card. I may never have one. I'm just not that into their approach to retail.

On the other hand, I appreciate CostCo's virtues as an economic neighbor.

While gasoline prices have not dropped much generally in Utah lately -- thus sayeth the Utah newscaster of your choice this week -- they have dropped about a dime per gallon in American Fork. My unscientific survey says that makes them comparable to Orem and better than Pleasant Grove. My calendar says that the downward trend began approximately when (give or take a few hours) the new CostCo opened, gas pumps and all, on the border of American Fork and Lehi.

So I thank you, CostCo. You may not be as pretty as the new development across the street in American Fork, and you may not be my big box of choice, but you've made my trips to the local Chevron a bit more economical just by being you.

Previous Post          Printer-Friendly Version          Next Post


Bookmark and Share