Listen to the audio of Randy Horiuchi’s Tavaci rant:
At Tuesday last Tuesday night’s Salt Lake County Council meeting (8/6/13), I became the unexpected recipient of a targeted message from Councilman Randy Horiuchi. The public hearing centered around a rezone proposed by one of Randy’s pals, Terry Diehl and his controversial development in Big Cottonwood Canyon – Tavaci. Just prior to Horiuchi’s accusations, Council Chair, Michael Jensen commended the crowd, inclusive of Save Our Canyons, for conducting themselves in a civil, democratic matter, with “decorum.” With Randy Horiuchi at the mic, the democratic decorum train was about to fall off the tracks.
Shortly after comparing himself to Princess Diana, he began to belabor points about how I personally and Save Our Canyons are responsible for the “high taxes” in the County, how Save Our Canyons has been disingenuous about the SkiLink issue, and that we are creating a rift in the environmental community who supports Transit Oriented Developments like Tavaci. Since I was not allowed an opportunity to respond – we’ll do so here. While we are honored that Horiuchi sees Save Our Canyons as being such a powerful entity that we are responsible for the bottom line of the County’s budget the argument is so ludicrous it hardly warrants a response. Horiuchi’s ineffectiveness at legislating lies solely with him and his representation of his own self-interest that are out of touch with the rest of the community. Period. Not mine, not Save Our Canyons, not the public – his. Own your positions councilman.
Two, on the issue of SkiLink. Horiuchi accuses SOC of exciting the public around a non-issue and we won’t let the issue go and continue to artificially inflate the public’s emotions around the issue of SkiLink. We’ve acknowledged SkiLink is dead, we’re not rallying around it, that said, we intend to make sure it stay’s dead. He said that SkiLink signs are still all over the county and that we need to take them down. What he doesn’t get is that those signs are more than about SkiLink; they are a statement our Wasatch Mountains should not be exploited for financial gains and should be protected from further development. A statement that is probably hard to swallow when you are in the pockets of developers and out of touch with the public you represent. (read more on our SkiLink in our article, Autopsy on SkiLink)
Third, Tavaci is not a Transit oriented development. This briefly came up at the hearing and quickly fell flat on its face after Diehl’s counsel Bruce Baird shakily avoided the question as to whether or not their was, or could be safe pedestrian access on the Tavaci luge. The rift in the environmental community he referred to was that Horiuchi, being a card carrying member of the Sierra Club, could not in his “good conscience” oppose transit oriented developments, putting himself at odds with his beloved organization. It should be noted that the Sierra Club has opposed the project and prompted the following response on their website:
Should the Tavaci Proposal be Described as Transit-Oriented Development?
At the 6 August Salt Lake County Council meeting, one of the council members observed incorrectly he “would catch hell from his friends at the Sierra Club” if he voted against the re-zone because it was a transit-oriented development. Later, in conversation with a member of Sierra Club staff, the council member volunteered that he thought the project could be made transit friendly by connecting the proposed development–separated from any future transit in the bottom of the canyon both by Big Cottonwood Creek and a couple of hundred feet in elevation–to light rail or a bus system via a short funicular railroad. Since the developer proposed at the same meeting a total of 380 residential units plus a hotel, It seems improbable that the cost of a funicular railroad, however short, could be amortized by a development of this size.
The Sierra Club enthusiastically supports transit-oriented development but not on every conceivable site. This site in particular is ill-suited. Moreover the project rejected by the council would not have been transit-oriented development. The common denominator for transit-oriented development is that they should be accessible on foot from high-quality transit. It’s probably safe to say that the only pedestrians who will ever walk down the steep, narrow and scary luge-run that passes for an access road into the Tavaci site are those who have accepted it on a bet or a dare.
Club members and the general public should know the chapter has opposed this project since its inception.
Horiuchi stated he supported the Tavaci rezone because he believed generating revenue for the County was important. Valid point. During the hearing Tavaci representatives maintained a projected $1.5 Million in property taxes could be generated by the project. I argue, as many others in the audience did, at what cost, surely not at the cost of our irreplaceable natural gem – the Wasatch Mountains. Still, councilman Horiuchi maintained I am the only one standing in the way of this well designed money generating project in Salt Lake County.
That said, I’m glad Councilman Horiuchi brought up the topic of taxes while his friend Terry Diehl was in the room. I was reminded of a story that ran earlier on this year that stated four Northern Utah Counties were owed over $80 million in back taxes. On the list, Terry Diehl, who owes hundreds of thousands of dollars in taxes and approximately $43 Million to creditors, more than half of which is owed to local credit union America First. This is the same guy who is trying gain Salt Lake County’s trust in a development rezone of his property, stating he will bring more money to the county, yet the guy hasn’t made good on his taxes. But in Randy’s eyes, Save Our Canyons is the problem, not his known tax cheat friends.
I’m certain there is a program in Salt Lake County that has been eliminated, providing much-needed services to our community: funding teachers, books, and educational materials for children, improving our quality of life by providing trails, parks and transit alternatives, all because some don’t pay their taxes (http://www.sltrib.com/sltrib/politics/55558174-90/lists-taxes-property-tax.html.csp). Should we even be allowing people to ask for more (i.e. rezones) when they can’t contribute to society like the rest of us?
Thankfully, his rant was unsuccessful in swaying a majority of the council and the rezone request was denied 4-3. However, the next time Randy starts pointing fingers at individuals in our community, he should start by pointing fingers at Terry during their next Sunday morning brunch. Instead of asking to pass the caviar and mimosas, Randy should ask his buddy to pass the back taxes he owes to our community of which the burden is being distributed to me and everyone else in Salt Lake County. After all, who does Randy represent? If you were there Tuesday night, it was disgustingly clear that Horiuchi only represents Terry Diehl, his own selfish interests and the interests of those for whom he lobbies (UTA & nuclear waste industries), not the County-at-Large as his position on the council suggests.
Terry, Randy and their buddies will not let this denial fade quietly into the night. They are scheming, politicking and devising a plan to ram the Tavaci project down the throats of our community. We need your help in urging your council members to remain steadfast in their opposition of this project, thanking them for upholding our community’s values and protecting our Wasatch Mountains (Send THANK YOU’S TO: Arlyn Bradshaw, Sam Granato, Jim Bradley, and Richard Snelgrove). Those who voted favorably toward the Tavaci development (These members voted in favor of increased development: Michael Jensen, Randy Horiuchi, and Max Burdick) need to be confronted and informed as to the community’s concerns with this project. It is worth contacting Councilmen David Wilde and Steve DeBry asking why they didn’t show up for this important vote! CONTACT YOUR COUNCIL MEMBER NOW! Find out who represents you here if you’re unsure: https://secure.slco.org/clerk/elections/
The Salt Lake County Planning Commission recommended Tavaci be denied. A majority of the Council upheld the denial. Hundreds of citizens have pleaded with their leaders to protect this area of our canyons. Mayor Cullimore (Cottonwood Heights) asked that Tavaci be denied, Tee Tyler (Councilman Cottonwood Heights) echoed his position. Holladay City has opposed the project. As Councilman Jim Bradley stated at last weeks hearing, “there have been very few times that 100% of the people who spoke at a public hearing have all been in opposition.” That reason alone should justify the denial of this ill-conceived project. We need to do everything we can to prevent the mouths of our canyons from looking like the mouth of Emigration Canyon – learning from past mistakes, not replicating them.