Sandy City Public Utilities Director Shane Pace sent the following e-mail and information to the Quality Growth Commission ahead of the Commission’s August 26, 2016 meeting. The message was addressed to John Bennett, Staff of the Utah Quality Growth Commission.
“August 18, 2016
Mr. Bennett: My name is Shane Pace and I am the Public Utilities Director for Sandy City. I am aware of your upcoming commission meeting and the discussion on Watershed Protection. I am a member of the Utah Water Quality Board and we are meeting at the same time as your commission meeting. I have attached a letter and some attachments that I would ask you to share with the Commission in order to provide feed back on this issue. It is my hope that a reasonable and fair discussion can occur on this important issue.
Shane E. Pace
Public Utilities Director
The following four documents were attached to his e-mail.LetterFirst Class CityWatershed OrdinanceForests & Drinking Water Article
In response to Mr. Pace’s letter attached above, John Bennett wrote the following e-mail response.
“August 18, 2016
Shane, thanks for taking the time to write to me. I read your letter with interest, I am forwarding it to the members of the Commission for their review. I appreciate your sharing with me the ordinance and the material.
In the letter you implied that I argued that landowners should not be subject to watershed regulation because they do not get to vote in city elections. As is the case with so much of the discussion around the governance of these canyons, this information is incomplete, and misleading.
I am an ardent conservationist. I hold my conservation successes up against anyones. In my career I have been a big part of protecting more than 100,000 acres of land in Utah. I believe that we need to have watershed protection ordinances that are reasonable and effective. Every landowner recreationist, or city worker whether resident or not, should be subject to these reasonable ordinances, but those who are residents of Salt Lake County should also have a say in how these ordinances are writtern as the land impacted is within the boundaries of the county and not the city. I am also a strong proponent of representative government. If my public school education serves me well, ensuring such representation was the very point of the American Revolution.
Shane, like me, I am sure you believe in representative government. I know Sandy City officials, and have a great deal of respect for them. They were elected to represent the residents of Sandy. Your main argument tries to compare apples to oranges and condemn the apples that the Quality Growth Commission is examining because they are not the oranges you describe in your letter. To mix metaphors, you have created a straw man, defined him as the Quality Growth Commission, and then begun to beat him. That is unfair, and does not lead to a reasonable outcome. The point I made at the Commission’s last meeting is that that extra-territorial jurisdiction creates a situation where one political subdivision imposes its ordinances on property that is not within its boundaries but is within the boundaries of another jurisdiction. This results in Salt Lake County Residents visiting unincorporated Salt Lake County but being subject to an ordinance written by Salt Lake City or Sandy.
In your letter you used the example of someone being ticketed when they enter Sandy City, and having to pay for a violation of city ordinance even if they did not vote for those who wrote the ordinance that they violated. You implied that this somehow refuted the argument I was making about representative government. You are wrong. I agree with you. It is perfectly appropriate for Sandy to enforce its laws on those who visit the city. The residents of Sandy elected the city council, and council adopted the ordinance. Visitors must abide by the law. But, these two examples are inherently different. The Cottonwood Canyons are not within the geographic boundaries of Salt Lake City, or Sandy. They are in unincorporated Salt Lake County. In any other part of unincorporated Salt Lake County, the governing ordinance would be written by the Salt Lake County Council. Every resident of the county elects members to that council, and can petition the council if they do not like an ordiance or how it is enforced. The ordinances that Salt Lake City and Sandy passed only apply in these canyons because they have been given extra-territorial jurisdiction–by definition, if something is extra-territorial, it is outside of the territory of the the entity that possesses such authority. I have no problem at all with Salt Lake City writing and enforcing whatever ordinance it wants in City Creek Canyon. City Creek is within its boundaries. But, rather than the example you cited of a person going into Sandy being subject to Sandy laws, in these canyons, we have a situation where visitors to unincorporated Salt Lake County are subject to ordinances passed by a legislative body from a municipality that does not include this property within its geographic boundaries. In many cases, the visitor, or landowner, is a resident of Salt Lake County, and does have a vote for the county council, but they are not being cited for violating a county ordinance–that would be a real apples to apples comparison–rather, they are being cited for violating an ordinance written by the Salt Lake City Council, or the Sandy City Council, by legislators they do not elect acting outside the geographical boundaries of their cities.
It is not only landowners who are subject to this jurisdiction, it is every one of the millions of visitors to the canyons who does not live in Salt Lake City, or Sandy, who is subject to this jurisdiction, and everyone of them is potentially subject to being fined, or arrested for violating an ordinance that they have no way to influence, despite being residents of the county and thus living within the jurisdiction that includes this property. This is true not because they visited a jurisdiction where they do not live–your example. In fact, most are residents of Salt Lake County. But rather because a city has been given the right to execise its authority outside of its boundaries. Oranges are not apples.
It is not unreasonable to review this authority and its impact on watersheds, recreation, development and any other activity in the canyons. A committment to representative government at least goes that far.”
The Quality Growth Commission’s next meeting will be held on Friday, August 26, 2016 at 10:30 AM in the Aspen Room in the Senate East Office Building on Capitol Hill. The meeting is open to the public.