Too Much News!

A lot of folks are going to be happy that $1400 is going to appear in their bank accounts from Ol’ Uncle Sam in a minute. That is if your adjusted gross income is below $75,000 or if you’re married, under $150,000 to get $2800. The payments are based on your 2019 or 2020 income depending on when you filed your 2020 tax return. Good news is that IF you OWE taxes, they won’t be taken out of the stimulus check if you qualify for that $1400 windfall. The stimulus package that Biden just signed also extended unemployment benefits for those who qualify until Sept. 6th, 2021 to the tune of $300 a week from the Feds which will be added on top of any Utah state unemployment benefits. The best thing about this new relief package is that people who got benefits in 2020 will not be taxes on that income under $10,200. Believe it or not, unemployment benefits are generally taxing during non-pandemic years.

Locally, the Utah State Legislature just ended it’s 45 day session and tried to make a dent in our housing crisis within our state borders. First, there’s going to be a designated housing/homelessness ‘Tzar’ with HB347, which will fund the one person standing on the top of the mountain to oversee homeless and low income projects and programs. They will oversee a new ‘Office of Homeless Services within the Department of Workforce Services’ and sit on the newly formed Utah Homelessness Council with state officials, members of the legislature, mayors, members of the public, service providers and religious leaders. There is also a huge amount of state funds going to preserving what little affordable housing units we have here. Simply stated, when an apartment building gets old and ratty, the owner(s) might sell to a flipper and the property torn down and replaced with higher priced housing. This bill will help rehab older buildings to keep them for affordable housing units.  Another related bill (finally!) that pass is SB164 which required the State to conduct an inventory of surplus property owned by the state, throughout the state, to see if any of it can be used/converted to affordable housing. That one is a bid ‘DUH!’ I’ve been waiting to see for years!

The other bill I supported and even wrote in to support was HB82. We’re down almost 50,000 affordable housing units in this State and one of the answers to this crisis is allowing people to build ADU’s (accessory dwelling units) on their property. Basically, standardizing the myriad of city to city/county to county rules to allow for more of these to exist. Parents want to modify the ‘shack in the back’ to let Grandma live there or the kids while they are going to college. It’s hell for property owners in many cases to get these simple dwellings approved and hopefully this bill will make it easier to do so in the future to help make a dent in affordable housing options in Utah.

Containing It

I’ll admit right off that I’m not an expert when it comes to shipping products around the world. Stuff I need gets magically stocked on store shelves or in a website on the internet. I do have friends and clients in the shipping business but frankly, talking about ‘containers’ doesn’t float my retail boat. Yet, we’re getting plenty of news these days about Utah’s desire to establish an ‘inland port’ west of the new prison, which is west of the new airport.

What does an inland port do? It is a stop for containers to be loaded and unloaded, items shipped off again after being repackaged into lots to thousands of destinations. In effect it makes Utah a global trade port that supposedly is very cost effective and allows for customs to operate here to open and inspect the containers before the inventory moves elsewhere. Proponents here, like Derek Miller, the president and CEO of World Trade Center Utah and co-chair of the Inland Port Committee sees Salt Lake as a hub for international business-especially because we are one of the fastest growing economies in the United States. To my pea brain, this all seems silly to come here since we have ports along the coast to do those very things.

Ah, but talking to my friends who own small businesses trying to get goods these days lends a different light on the subject. Apparently, container ship congestion at ALL North American ports is crazy right now. If you visit the Marine Traffic website ( you can see the massive shipping traffic in real time anywhere in the world. Look to our West Coasts ports like San Diego, L.A./Long Beach and Oakland and you can view the congestion there yourself. When I checked in, I saw at least 30 ships sitting and waiting to unload in the L.A./Long Beach harbor. According to the website this situation is being driven by the “unprecedented surge in demand” and “vessels are experiencing  severe delays for berth windows once they arrive at the terminal for discharge.” The lack of laborers, warehouses, delivery trucks and rail cars is stressing out the system, not to mention effects of Covid closures in California over the past year. The Journal of Commerce writes that they see no relief in sight especially for LA-LB congestion but predicts that there will be “Double-digit trans-Pacific volume growth projected through the first half of the year and at ports around the world.”

Locally, I don’t know how our proposed Inland Port can help if you can’t get the damned containers off ships. While we sit at home during Covidtime we’re browsing the web and ordering too much stuff-explaining some delays in packages. My friends in retail can’t stock their shelves like they used to, and worse, my friends in the building trades are seeing massive shortage deliveries in tile, carpet, lumber, steel products and more. Even the cost of old containers to use for tiny homes has gone up-if you can find one.


Since I was born in New York, I’m a native New Yorker! Although I’ve lived in Utah most of my life, I still love traveling back to the Big Apple to see friends and family, the latest show on Broadway or a museum and of course track down a dirty water dog or a chewy bagel dog. I’ll hope in a Yellow Cab to travel but I’m also a fan of the subway system. The subway experience is always a visual overload, from the characters riding along with me to the public art along the tracks and inside the cars.

When I was a Board member for UTA I asked why we didn’t have public art on our buses, trains and TRAX and my fellow Board members just looked back at me like deer in my headlights. The staff got it, and a few years after my term UTA has announced a friendly competition to get students from K-12 to make art to beautify our public transportation. UTA’s first My BeUTAHful Community Student Art Competition is now under way and UTA is asking kids to submit visual artwork based on the theme “Meet Your Neighbor”.  Participants will have the opportunity to self-express through public art that will be visible throughout the entire public transportation system along the Wasatch Front and it will give riders and the communities they serve to opportunity to see the rich talent we have in our tri-city area.

If you have a child or sibling who might be in the age range and interested in having their art work seen in this ‘moving museum’, the deadline is March 16th. Entries are encouraged to highlight the beauty and diversity of Utah’s communities and people. Pieces will be judged in four age categories: kindergarten-second grade, third to sixth grade, seventh to ninth grade and tenth through twelfth grade. The winning artwork will be displayed on UTA buses and trains for a year starting this April. Winners get at $50 gift card and the overall ‘Best of Show’ winner will get a $100 gift card, as well as the opportunity for that artist’s friends, family and the community to see their creation displayed prominently where public transportation is happening. All participants will also be entered to win a drawing for a one-day UTA family pass, although I personally think ALL participants should get a one day pass just for entering! Seriously, this is not just fun for aspiring young artists it’s a way for us to appreciate the diverse talents we have in our community. UTA will accept 2-D artwork made with paint, pencils, colored pencils, markers, digital programs, pastel’s and ink. Each entry has to have the theme of “Meet Your Neighbor” creatively displayed in the piece but doesn’t have to include any rendering of public transportation on it. For entry info: or drop submissions off at UTA, c/o Megan Waters: 669 W. 200 So. SLC


National monuments in Utah include the obvious: Timpanogas Cave, Bear’s Ears, the Grand Staircase-Escalante, Hovenweep, Dinosaur, Zion, Canyonlands, Arches, Bryce, Capitol Reef, etc. State monuments also include This Is the Place, the Seagull Monument at Temple Square, The Eagle Gate Monument on State Street and South Temple, Joseph Smiths birth place and many others.  I would think most people in our state have visited or have heard of our precious national monuments but very few would be pressed to know where some of these State monuments are located.

Brigham Young is buried just east of Temple Square at 140 East First Avenue. Surely, you’ve driven by it a million times if you live in or near the Avenues. At the site is a small garden with four plaques dedicated to the Mormon Pioneers (two of which are dedicated to well-known Mormon hymns).  The Seagull Monument is inside Temple Square and is dedicated to ‘the miracle of the gulls’ when supposedly Western Gulls descended out of nowhere to eat the invasion of Mormon Crickets that were annihilating the crops of the early pioneers in the year 1848. A block east are the metal arches above the intersection of State Street and South Temple. These were erected in 1859 and commemorates the original entrance to Brigham Young’s property at the mouth of City Creek Canyon. You’ve driven under this if you head up to the state capitol building.  It was originally topped by a wooden eagle (on display at the Daughters of Utah Pioneers Museum) but was replaced with a 4,000-pound bronze bird with a 20’ wingspan.

Why do I mention monuments? One potential site has been in the news lately because a local developer wanted to build a high-end celebrity rehab center right above it, making access to the public difficult or not at all. I tell of our legendary beautiful Bridal Veil Falls in Provo Canyon. Legend has it that an indigenous girl named Norita fell in love with a rival tribe boy named Grey Eagle. The classic Romeo and Juliet-like story went simply that elders from both tribes found out about the forbidden love and told her that they had killed her lover, and so she leapt over the falls to join him in the spirit world. Mother Nature felt badly for the girl and turned her hair into a bridal veil of falling water. It’s a drop dead gorgeous site because it’s a year-round stream of water that flows 607 feet down from springs above Cascade Mountain there in the canyon. It’s a natural wonder and I don’t believe this kind of thing should ever be owned privately.

Luckily Utah County Commissioners placed the county-owned falls in a protected conservation easement last year. This pissed off the potential developer who then filed a lawsuit. Luckily Richard Losee, the developer, has now backed off of the lawsuit since Utah County has asked state legislators to designate this a state monument this year which will protect this natural landmark for future generations.

Homebuyer Help

You’d have to live on the dark side of the moon if you haven’t heard of Ivory Homes. The developer has been building homes in this state for 30+ consecutive years, with 20,000+ homes built and sold, 70+ communities established, 100+ different home designs and 45+ model homes to choose from. The CEO, Clark Ivory has been obsessed with trying to figure out how to get affordable housing into the mix of options for Utah’s homebuyers. He’s certainly not alone because politicians, bankers, business leaders, developers big and small statewide are trying to figure out this damnable housing problem.

As we know, this state is undergoing unpreceded growth with more people moving here than leaving, and all needing a place to live that they can afford. Sadly, Ivory and his minions have come head to head with local communities in trying to increase density where traditional zoning laws make it nearly impossible to building nothing more than single family homes on large lots. We aren’t building any more land, and the future is grim for homebuyers if we don’t start revamping how many dwellings can go on one lot. Ivory is attempting to bring more housing options into our future, with plans for homes with ADU’s (accessory dwelling units), and homes on smaller lots in some subdivisions where allowed.

Ivory Homes is offering “Workforce Housing” for owner occupied homes (not rentals) to first time homebuyers, first responders, teachers, veterans and military, nurses, construction workers, police officers and public employees. Rules to qualify for Ivory’s special affordable housing are simple: use their preferred lender and you can’t use your own REALTOR because they don’t offer any commission to your agent. You of course can pay for your own representation.

The Salt Lake Board of REALTORS is currently offering a limited number of $5000 grants to single parents who are first time homebuyers and the deadline for applications is April 23rd. Applicants can contact for more information. Other assistance can be found through the Utah Housing Corp. which offers mortgage loans around the state to qualified first time homebuyers