To many, change is scary.  And big changes are coming to Salt Lake neighborhoods since the City Council has voted to loosen zoning laws and easing ordinances. After a few years of debate, grumblings and public input citizens will find that Boarding Houses will become a thing again, the Tiny Home Village has been approved, builders will not be required to carve out as much parking for their projects as in the past, and the Ballpark area will get getting zoning changes.

The Ballpark area has been a mess of development without long range planning which has caused a weird pattern of more car than foot traffic with big box stores (Walmart, Lowes) and large apartment buildings taking up land. The changes will in effect create a ‘Ballpark Station Area Transit Station Area zone’ which the city is calling ‘Heart of the Neighborhood’ that will reportedly reconfigure the Ballpark TRAX station to improve access from the west, make it easier for pedestrians on 1300 South with new and improved crossings and adding green space around the stadium. Mind you, no one is sure the stadium will be there in a few years, but for now, it’s still a landmark to build around to improve the neighborhood experience.

There are 45 pages of parking ordinances created in 2019 being updated, to include new minimum and maximum parking spaces required for new construction, electric vehicle parking, more assessable parking (the capitol city is not known for an abundance of handicapped/accessible parking), bike parking, off street loading areas, and drive-throughs. Shared housing was big in the 1800-1900’s as an affordable housing alternative, and boarding houses will now be allowed in all TSA, downtown, Sugarhouse Central Business District and several other zones with a minimum bedroom size of 100 ft per person, 24-hour on-site management, and security cameras except in bathrooms.

Another item that spooks homeowners -changes to RMF-30 zoning (which is traditionally a low density multi-family residential district). This would eliminate the width of a building lot (currently the rule is 80’ ft wide) for multi-family dwellings to allow for potentially more accessory dwelling units and tiny homes to be added to current properties that formerly didn’t have a wide enough lot to put in an addition.  RMF zoning exists mainly on the city’s east side and this change would allow for more density-something NIMBY’S are opposed to as a change in their hood. The downside is that a home could be torn down and replaced with multi-units, meaning potentially more traffic and parking problems. A huge part of the discussion for changes to this zoning is a ‘Housing Loss Mitigation’ -people don’t want homes torn down and replaced with multi-units. This adds to loss of place and gentrification as we see neighborhoods decimated by aggressive developers throughout the city.

Time to take off your masks and rip off the bloody bandages, Salt Lake. Life here and around the state is changing fast and if you don’t pay attention you’ll end up falling into an open grave!

Spooky Times

It’s October. Fall has officially begun and for many, it’s not just hoodie season, it’s scary season!  What could possibly be scary when buying a home? Or selling one? I could write a few dozen books about what I’ve seen in my almost 40 years as a REALTOR! Since my editor requested something spooky malookie, here’s a few highlights that I personally witnessed:

-My buyers and I found an old wicker wheelchair in the basement of an old bungalow when we were going through a vacant home just before sunset, similar to the one in the Alfred Hitchcock movie, Psycho. Yeah, that was creepy, but what was worse was that it was kinda rocking back and forth when we discovered it. NOPE, we were out of there so fast we were virtually crawling up each other’s back getting up the stairs and out of the place!

-Yes, I have seen a ghost in a property. It was in the heat of summer in a vacant home in Marmalade. My client had just walked from the front door through the living room and entered the kitchen. I was right behind. The home was stifling hot and the summer flys (the big ones) were attempting suicide at the glass windows to get out, making weird banging noises as they flew at top speed into the glass and then ending upside down on the window sill. There were like 100 of them. As he kept going I looked up from the fly graveyard to my right. It was then I saw an adult, white male dressed as an 1800’s miner with a hard hat with a half burned candle on it. He looked at me, not with any malice, and walked directly into the wall and disappeared.

-I’ve had several sellers tell me tales of their haunted houses. Two that I remember are still located  in the 9thand 9th area. One possessed house wouldn’t let the owners put nails in the walls. Anytime they tried to hang a picture, a painting, or curtains the nails would go flying back at them. And yes, the cabinets would bang closed in the middle of the night just like you’ve seen in B-rated horror movies. They ended up calling a witch who came in and read the house and talked to the spirit. I don’t remember what she said but the cabinets settled down and they were able to hang curtains. There were still troubles with the nails, tho. The other home just down the street had voices in the attic. The owners discovered that the owner in the 1930’s was fighting prohibition by making whisky in the home and hiding it up there.

What’s spooky now?  The FED raising interest rates another .75%.  That means interest rates on mortgages are going to go up. Home sales across the nation have slowed during the past 7 months in a row, but prices aren’t dropping. Homes are sitting longer on the market and Utah is among the top states for price reductions. Buyers and sellers are feeling scared in this spooky market, and there’s more adjusting coming.

The Buzz and the Bees

It’s almost time for the Boys of Summer to finish their season’s games and the top teams vie to get into the World Series beginning October 28th.  Our local Salt Lake Bees haven’t has a swell season this year and rumor has it we might not be seeing Bees baseball after 2024 when the lease on Smiths Ballpark at the corner of 1300 South and West Temple in Salt Lake City.

Our local ballpark opened in 1994 with a seating capacity of 15,411 which is the largest stadium in the Pacific Coast League. The first team to play there was known as the Salt Lake Buzz but then in 2001 the name changed to the Salt Lake Stingers. Joe Buzas (a former baseballer himself) moved the Portland Beavers to Salt Lake as long as the city built a new ballpark where Derks Field was located. Franklin Quest field opened in 1994 and drew almost 800,000 ticket holders in the first year. When Buzas died in 2003 the team was purchased by the Larry H. Miller group. When he died his wife sold the team to Ryan Smith last year, the new owner of the Utah Jazz.

I was sad when the name changed from the Buzz to the Stingers but there was a trademark owned by Georgia Tech.  Since the honeybee is the official state symbol (as of 1959), the official state insect is the honeybee, the name for honeybee in the Book of Mormon is Deseret and our flag has a beehive on it, ‘the Buzz’ seemed like an appropriate name at the time. But now all may be lost as rumors have it that a new ballpark is in the works with a potential MLB team replacing our Bees.

Apparently, our City Council has been looking at ‘improving’ the neighborhood where the Ballpark is located, possibly doing upgrades to make it bigger with a vision of new commercial properties and housing opportunities around it. Right now the area is s a mess of homeless camps and increased crime intermingled with sweet historic homes   The lease on the field expires in 2024 and the Bees will need to be re-licensed with MLB by the end of this decade. Note that the Larry H. Miller group has purchased a s-load of acreage in Daybreak and sold of part of its ownership of the Utah Jazz and Vivent Arena to a sports group so it’s possible we could getting an MLB team down the road. Which is much more likely and less expensive than a MLF league!

My best memories of our Bees were watching Mike Trout play. He was moved up to the home team (we’re the farm for the California Angels) and became the highest paid MLB player in terms of total contract value in baseball. Trout, a three-time AL MVP, signed an extension before the 2019 season that will pay him a total of $426.5 million through 2030. When we root for the Bees we’re rooting for the Angels too-befitting a saintly state, eh?