I received these questions from the South West Orem Neighborhood Association. While a number of questions - including issues around Utah Valley University - are of greater importance to these neighborhoods, the whole city may find my answers to these questions of interest:
1. Do you think that some residential or commercial zones should be rezoned to allow high-density housing? When is that acceptable?
Existing single-family residential areas should NOT be rezoned to allow high-density housing. Existing commercial zones COULD be candidates for high-density residential housing when transportation options exist to minimize the automobile footprint created by higher-density housing.
2. Should bus service be expanded in Orem to further leverage the Bus Rapid Transit system?
Bus service in Orem is currently under-utilized. We need to fix the things that make mass-transit unattractive, including infrequent service and high prices. While I understand the wariness of neighborhoods to support UTA and the BRT under these circumstances, we need to think creatively about mass transit and be willing to intelligently expand mass transit in Orem. Smarter growth includes smarter transportation options.
3. Do you feel that the student body attending UVU on the Orem Campus should be curtailed at some level? If yes, what level and how?
I do feel that UVU and Orem need to reach an agreement on a maximum student body size for the Orem campus. The university serves all of Utah County (and all of Utah), and it should be urged to grow other campuses besides main campus in Orem. At a minimum, future development should be directed at facilities in Vineyard, and NOT into residential neighborhoods near its Orem campus.
4. How should we manage our debt to UTOPIA? Should it continue to be a "utility" or be sold off to a private company?
The $9 per month that each household currently pays, on average, to cover Orem's portion of the UTOPIA debt will have to be paid irrespective of the city’s future plans. The real question is: How are we going to ensure that all Orem citizens, and not just the one-third that currently have access, get Better Broadband? I support finding a way to either hire UTOPIA to complete the network or invite private-sector companies to bid on building the rest of our open-access network to the city's specifications. This fiber network is a HUGE advantage for Orem if we are willing to tackle this problem!
5. What parts of the State Street Master Plan do you like and what parts don't you like?
In the long run, State Street needs to improve in a number of ways: Aesthetics, the particular commercial/office/residential mix, and improved transportation options. I like those portions of the master plan that encourage these priorities. I add that Orem need to consider and push for incorporating greater recreational facilities into and around developments that take place along this changing thoroughfare.
6. Under what conditions, if ever, should Orem offer tax breaks to attract business?
Orem should be reluctant to offer tax breaks to businesses. The city should not tax breaks unless there are tangible benefits, and tangible commitments to provide those benefits. Previous commitments to prior developers and businesses should be identified and publicly tracked to ensure accountability to these principles.