Several weeks ago, an LTE drew attention to forthcoming local housing initiatives and praised the current Grand County Planning Commission Chair, Emily Campbell, for her hard work on both temporary and long-term solutions to our local housing crisis. It felt like a positive piece, with an uplifting overall message: to get and stay involved as a community and help make sure that our future is a good one.
I was surprised, then, to see a response by a local real estate investor last week that was laden with accusations and questions of outside influence. Disturbingly, it also carried the implication that several residents who volunteer to work on housing policy and other community-focused issues on the City and County planning commissions might not have the best interests of Moab at heart. No substantive reason was given and no mention was made of any of the very transparent actions taken or statements made by any of us in these roles. Probably the strangest suggestion was the idea that we may have a vision for Moab that includes making it into “another exclusive, closed-gate enclave like Jackson Wyoming.” Simply put: YUCK. While I do not believe the author’s concern is genuine (his LTE even seems to acknowledge it as a wild idea), it still plants a deceptive seed.
It is offensive to me because I serve on the City Planning Commission with a very different track record and goals. Moab is my home, and I want to make sure our town remains a real, thriving community. Given that I and others spend most of our time working to make sure Moab doesn’t become a place like Jackson, implying the exact opposite is just silly. In the last few years on the City Planning Commission, we have developed policies that set aside housing for locals, address affordability, and make it easier to build long-term rentals, all with the goal of preventing Moabites from getting pushed out of the community their families have been a part of for generations.
Last week’s LTE questioned who is “calling the shots here.” The answer? Moab. And thankfully, Moab isn’t easily taken by rhetoric that divides us and makes us even more vulnerable to those who actually DO want to turn us into nothing more than the dead-eyed “destination town” of their dreams. I would be thankful to hear more from other residents as we keep trying new strategies on housing and affordability. Moab City Planning Commission meetings are at 6 p.m. every second and fourth Thursday of the month, and you can email us anytime to share ideas and input: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Kya Marienfeld, Moab City Planning Commission Chair