Burrrrrrrrrr. When trapped under an inversion of smog in single degree weather it’s hard to remember sweat and single layers of clothes during the summer. Salt Lake City’s GREEN-BIKE program has taken away its fleet of 65 bikes downtown until the snow melts in the spring with the promise of 30% more bikes and more stations in 2014 (greenbikeslc.org) that will begin to sprout when the warmth returns.
The more construction cranes a city has in the air the better the economic outlook is for the community. I’m counting cranes right now and we’re back at a 2007 level for new construction projects that are going up in the air. Sadly, most of those are for apartment buildings for young renters (instead of condos with owners). Yeah, I’m a REALTOR who wants to have inventory to sell. I also know that statistically owners take better care of properties than renters and they have more invested in their neighborhoods. The 2008 crash put a kibosh on developers and banks willing to invest in building high rise owner-occupied properties. HUD and FHA loans were cut and condo associations had to re-apply to get buildings re-approved for low down government-insured mortgage approval. Additionally, no one is building senior high rises, yet baby boomers are the biggest population in the U.S. The very first new housing (apartment) project that actually faces 400 South has been approved by the Salt Lake Planning and Zoning Commission for construction in the New Year. This is what the Master Plan for the 4th South Corridor has always been mapped out to look like – businesses, live/work spaces, condos and apartments mixed in nicely along the TRAX route. Up until now Mayor Becker had never been able to get anyone to build housing along there to meet his vision but the economy has improved and well, to coin a phrase, ‘Downtown is Rising’…again.
If I look into my crystal ball for 2014, credit cards, mortgage and other loan rates will start to climb. The Fed is beginning to pull back on the post-crash/stimulus handouts it gave out and as the U.S. economy improves, big investors do a little Snoopy dance on the heads of the little people while raising loan rates on any money we borrow. You know what they say, “What’s good for big business is good for the economy!” And as I sit typing this and watching the long line of homeless people waiting to get into the shelter this snowy day I know that 2014 isn’t going to get any better for many of the have-nots. Greed will grow in the New Year with retailers making employees work Thanksgiving day and night and other major traditional holidays. All those folks who get paid minimum wage and can’t afford a car, or who don’t want a car and are forced to work on holidays can’t ride TRAX, Frontrunner or a bus because public transportation is closed on big holidays except for limited buses to ski resorts. And maybe, just maybe, the Utah Legislature will mandate that buses, TRAX and Frontrunner will be free and state subsidized on red burn days in 2014. We are killing ourselves and our kids by not addressing our pollution problem right now, this year.