Last week I chatted with an elderly resident who was evicted from housing along Kane Creek. The individual lives solely on Social Security and was near tears talking about their future prospects. A viable town needs to have the whole spectrum: the young, the old, the working class. Without all types of folks, it is no longer a community. It is just a place. Someone else’s playground.

The developers of Kane Creek have fed the community a lot of green-washing and social-washing with words like: native plant nursery! preservation! Biochar??! solar! community benefit! affordable housing! economic diversification! Will they deliver? Do developers ever deliver? I heard a lot of similar such words during my time on the Grand County Planning Commission. I learned to cancel out the chatter and hear the word they are really saying: Money! More specifically: money for them.

Does Moab really need 500 more luxury units and a commercial center in the viewshed of our climbing, biking, hiking, and jeeping areas? How is this somehow better, more noble, than a riparian area with migrating waterfowl and beaver, campers and cave dwellers? Does putting up a fancy new native plant nursery sign across from the evicted somehow right the wrong? I can imagine quite a few better ways to re-imagine that land to benefit the community residents, human and non-human alike.

Massive second home development is the death blow to communities struggling to retain their identity. Just visit any soulless resort town and ask the few remaining year-round residents about the beginning of the end. They’ll say it was the building of luxury homes and condos on properties where residents had once lived, and the eventual busing in of workers from neighboring communities. Just recently, 10 more families in a trailer park in downtown Moab were evicted—in winter, no less! Again!

At this point I am hoping, desperately, for an act of God. Bring on the floodwaters! I am also hoping for Moab and Grand County to move to protect renters’ rights through relocation payments and the like; limit the building of second homes (which are nightly rentals rebranded but without the required permits and taxes); and continue to reexamine all zoning along our scenic viewsheds.

I applaud what the Commissions have accomplished so far but, obviously, developers will always find a way to maximize profit at the expense of the rest of us. If you are similarly outraged, then contact the City Council and County Commission, the Planning Commissions, and the developers themselves. We are fighting for the heart of Moab, and they might just win and turn us into yet another soulless town if we don’t lift our pens and voices.

Rachel Nelson