Our new land-development regulations reduced the amount of density that can be transferred from one property to another, thus disincentivizing clustering and instead incentivizing 35-acre developments. I believe we can create more opportunities for affordable housing through better zoning, increased density bonuses and clustering. In addition, we need to remove some of the obstacles that are hindering the private sector from helping the effort to build affordable housing for our local workforce.
We need to widen and connect our roads so that vehicles can get where they are going in a safe and timely manner. Right now we have an arterial road system that lacks redundancy. When we don’t have secondary routes it creates major safety issues. Improvements to the “Y” intersection should be a high priority for funding. Reconstruction of the “Y” should accommodate all modes of transportation with emphasis on improvements on signal and bus transit prioritization. In addition it’s crucial that we add more START bus trips to and from the Star Valley and Alpine and Victor and Driggs, Idaho, areas, as well as neighborhoods in the county that aren’t currently served by START.
By zoning much of the county one house per 35 acres, the Comprehensive Plan has prioritized land conservation at the expense of both property rights and affordable housing. If our goal as a community is to protect open space in perpetuity, then we need to create zoning that incentivizes clustering of density and the preservation of land through conservation easements. Many large landowners and cattle ranchers in Teton County would prefer to take less money for their land in exchange for a conservation easement rather than see their land subdivided into 35-acre parcels.
There’s no guarantee that the money collected through the general excise tax for “housing and transportation” will actually go toward housing and transportation projects. Instead the money will go into a general fund and can be spent at the discretion of the elected officials. SPET provides transparency and ensures that local government has a clear plan in place on how it will spend taxpayer money. SPET has a great track record and has been a very effective way of forcing local government to fully define the scope of a project and ensure it is held accountable.