Thursday, July 10, 2008

The Incredibly Shrinking Salt Lake

The Tribune has an article on the shrinking Salt Lake City. Salt Lake City has been on a steady decline since the 70s. It shrank both under the ineptitude of DeeDee and under the dominion of Rocky. This last round of shrinkage is surprising because, in the latter half of Rocky's dominion, the city allowed a small number of extremely rich, extremely well connected developers to put in high density housing so that they servants would have a place to live.

Stuart Reid says the shrinking city was the result of Rocky Anderson's alienating the LDS. There may be some truth. I think the problem isn't just religious. Rocky's Salt Lake was hostile to all members of the middle class.

I think a better explanation is the tight zoning in the city that prevents people from being able to improve their properties. The way housing used to work is that homes would expand, contract and subdivide during people's natural lifecycle. People might add on a bedroom as the kids aged. They would split off an apartment when the kids went away.

Likewise, businesses would expand and contract.

The very fact that Salt Lake was counting on condos built by well connected developers for growth is a sign that the city has an unhealthy vision for its growth. Talking to home owners and small business owners, The Democratically dominated city has created layers of nightmare for anyone wanting to improve their properties. The only way development can occur in Salt Lake is for the property owner to allow the property to deteriorate so that their block can be zoned RDA. Of course, only the most politically connected can pull off an RDA development.

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