OPINION — Dear Southern Utah, we need to have a little chat.
Don’t worry, come in, sit down. Uncle Knux won’t hurt you. There will be a slide show at the end and refreshments will be served. So sit down and let’s get started.
Let me open with a simple question; do you want to live in Los Angeles? Or maybe Phoenix? Las Vegas? Salt Lake? No? Me neither.
To be honest, I have to be dragged kicking and screaming to those places just for a visit. It’s not so much the location or geography that I despise, it’s the cities themselves. Endless traffic congestion that has lead to endless construction projects that will never mitigate said congestion. Dirty downtowns that have prompted nonstop expansion into the desert requiring more cars, roads and construction. And way too many people.
The worst part is the above mentioned cities have followed the model set by Los Angeles. Which is to do whatever is necessary to ensure there is plenty of water, land for sale and to develop. Destroy anything that gets in the way.
It’s most likely one of the top reasons that those of you who have moved to Southern Utah, did. You were probably running away from said model sick of wasting significant chunks of your day stuck in traffic, sick of seeing that beautiful section of desert suddenly gone and replaced with McMansions for those trying to escape the inner parts of the city, sick of dealing with road construction all the time.
Another one of your top reasons for coming here was probably the beautiful desert. The ease of access to adventurous opportunities and lack of crowds during said activities. Or at the very least, the magnificent beauty of everything that surrounds this small chunk of desert.
Are you picking up what I’m laying down? Yes? Good.
Hey you, in the back. Wake up. This is important and we cannot tolerate any apathy.
This all leads us to one question. Why are we turning this beautiful desert, this place we all call home, into the one thing we don’t want?
We are at the cusp of decisions and momentum that is going to determine if Washington County turns into just another suburban hell hole defined by endless traffic and sprawl or stays the unique, slightly odd community and desert we all love. If we stand down, ignore what is happening or just throw up our hands in disgust assuming there is nothing we can do, our home will be lost.
Our elected county officials are hell bent on jamming two projects down our throats. Two projects that have very little, if any, benefit to those of us who live here.
The Northern Corridor, at its most benign, is a middle finger to the BLM. At its worst, it’s a way to dissect and fragment the Red Cliffs Desert Reserve to pave the way to open it up to development. The supposed future traffic that it is supposedly going to mitigate is already being served by both the Red Hills Parkway and I-15. Both main throughways that will parallel the Northern Corridor.
Most importantly, you and I both know that more roads do not mitigate traffic. It never has and never will. If you don’t believe me, please find one, that’s right, just one case study that shows building more roads and widening existing ones will solve traffic congestion. It’s just not the way it works.
And the other project, the Lake Reservoir Powell Pipeline follows Los Angeles’ playbook almost word for word. We don’t have enough water here to keep paving the desert and creating an endless sprawl of McMansions so let’s get it from somewhere else.
Let me be as painfully clear as possible. The Lake Powell Pipeline has zero benefits for current Washington County residents. Zero, as in none. If you are currently living here, you have plenty of water. Enough so that we all have green lawns, tons of trees that shouldn’t exist here and we pay almost nothing for the water that we use. Yet, the County Commissioners want us to pay upward of $3.2 Billion to bring more water to the desert.
You have to ask yourself why. The only logical answer is greed.
Without the water, there is a point where the county cannot keep destroying our home. This means that real estate development would have to be slowed and eventually stopped. Both things benefit us. Less people equals fewer cars mitigating that traffic congestion they are so worried about. Slowed development might give us the time and resources to actually figure out a plan for transportation that allows us to move about our city safely, quickly and by any means we want. And of course, we would save the desert from being an endless paved over suburban hell hole.
So who does benefit? The real estate developers and anyone else who is sucking off that teat. The $3.2 billion publicly funded project is really just so those who want to can continue to sell, destroy and pave our desert. All of which is so they can make a quick buck. We are being asked to subsidize this growth, to pay for the one thing that we all agreed we didn’t want.
So what should we do? First, if you aren’t angry, you should be. Be angry. The people elected to represent you are advocating the destruction of your home, they just try to use different words so you don’t notice.
Second, it’s time to make some phone calls and write some emails. Anyone who has done any kind of work with elected officials knows the power of an angry phone call. Most elected officials will do just about anything to avoid them. Don’t let them do something this stupid without knowing that you are angry.
Third, be vigilant. The motivations and methods we are seeing today aren’t new and they aren’t going to easily go away. We aren’t quite yet to the point of chaining ourselves to bulldozers, but that’s probably not too far off.
Are you with me? Good.
Here’s your slide show and there are beers in the cooler.
Submitted by LUKAS BRINKERHOFF, Washington County.
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