John Turner speaks out

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Here’s an oldie but a goody from former state senator John Turner. He wrote this letter to the editor back in February 2016.

A fiscal ambush

A sneak attack on the voters of Teton County. I feel that is what the recent proposal to increase the general sales tax to fund housing, transportation, and the slide represents. Once enacted, the additional funds would be unrestricted, could continue for years and would likely have no direct accountability to the citizens of the county.

When the optional sales taxes provisions were passed by the Legislature to meet the growing needs of local communities, we carefully tailored the SPET to be used for specific projects, with defined costs and with a limited time span to be applied. Appropriately, local officials have to periodically go before the voters and carefully justify their case for transparent and limited expenditures. This is the appropriate vehicle to consider for launching significant requests for what promises to be mountains of new spending.

When I was first elected to the Wyoming Legislature, Teton County was the poorest in Wyoming. It was a time when local officials had to be extremely cautious in selecting priorities and spending limited funds. Today we are fortunate to have substantial revenues flowing into local coffers. So much that one sometimes gets the impression that there is a lack of adequate planning, prioritization and accountability.

Example: The final reported building cost of the Grove Phase II was $9.9 million, $4.6 million or 88 percent above the estimates initially approved at $5.3 million. Before enacting significant funds for the legitimate need of housmg, I believe the voters need assurance that we can design and build projects efficiently and responsibly. SPET provides that accountability.

I hope local officials will rethink the funding pathway they wish to present the community.

John F. Turner
John F. Turner

John F. Turner

Former State Senator

(Teton, Sublette and north Lincoln counties)

Moose

You Did It!

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Proposed land development regulations for District 2 in downtown Jackson were successfully overturned in today’s vote. The “No” vote won, 827 to 647.

The reasons to vote no were many, so it could have been any number of things that resonated with voters. Maybe some understood that the Workforce Housing Bonus Tool would create more problems than it would solve by adding more jobs than housing. Perhaps voters were suspicious of the way short-term rentals were added late in the game to one developer in particular. Still others might not have been clear on what was going on and opted to hit the pause button.

This election result should at the very least send a clear message to our town electeds that will likely reverberate well beyond District 2. Citizens are tired of being sold out to developers. They are generally distrustful now of our leaders for reasons they’ve brought on themselves. And many people don’t believe the hype: that building our way out of our housing woes is anything but a bad idea.

Hopefully, our local governing body will do the right thing and strip out commercial short-term rentals. We do not need to give developers any incentives to build their skyscrapers in Jackson. The pittance of workforce housing that could come with these commercial entitlements ar not affordable housing but deed restricted housing. The difference is they have no restrictions on assets, salary, or net worth. If you can prove you live here, you can try to outbid every other millionaire in the valley for them.

Voters saw through the “Yes” vote’s attempt to make this about housing. It isn’t. It never was. It’s about government listening to the people.

This is a victory for democracy, and for those who cherish our small Western town full of charm and character. Community over condos

Still making up your mind?

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Did you catch the editorial “face off” in Wednesday’s News&Guide weekly?

Jake Nichols from Save Historic Jackson Hole made the case for a “No” vote in the District 2 special election on September 20.

Jeff Golightly from the Chamber of Commerce pitched the “Yes” side’s arguments.

Read them carefully. You will decide. We include the “No” vote argument here. For the opposing side you’ll have to spend a dollar on the newspaper.

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Links to online “Guest Shot” versions so you can comment:

     Vote NO

          Vote YES

 


editorial

Old Bills deadline approaching

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Many of you participated in Old Bill’s Fun Run this year and marked the event by donating money to Save Historic Jackson Hole. We sure appreciate your philanthropy. We recognize there are many worthy nonprofits (230 in all!) you could choose to give to.

This is a friendly reminder that donations are still being accepted by the Community Foundation of Jackson Hole until 5pm on Friday, September 16. Visit the CFJH office at 245 East Simpson Street or donate securely online at www.oldbills.org.

Thank you for your continued support in helping to make Jackson Hole a livable community.

 

click on me!!      DONATE NOW!        click on me!!

FAQ: September 20 Special Election

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Why is there a special election?

A group of dedicated volunteers collected signatures from 10% of the registered voters in the Town of Jackson asking for a referendum on ordinances 1121 through 1129 concerning District 2 land development regulations (LDRs).

 

What is a referendum?

A referendum allows the citizens to vote on ordinances passed by elected officials. If a majority of citizens vote “NO” in the special election, the elected officials must repeal those ordinances.

 

Why are we allowed to have a referendum?

A referendum is part of the checks-and-balances provided by the Wyoming Constitution to ensure that our elected officials are acting in the best interests of our community.

 

What do those ordinances allow?

The ordinances are very complex. Our elected officials have not done a good job educating the public on what they allow. Current land regulations for District 2 in downtown Jackson would allow commercial development to roughly double from what is on the ground now. These new ordinances also permit an additional 100,000 square feet of short-term rentals over and above what is currently allowed. The ordinances change other things in the downtown core, but most people are upset about the additional short-term rentals.

 

Why do they want more short-term rentals?

The elected officials think short-term rentals will provide a solution to our workforce housing problems. In reality, the demand for housing that they create is greater than any worker housing they provide. More short-term rentals will provide greater profits for a select few developers.

 

What are short-term rentals?

The new ordinances propose building luxury penthouse apartments that would rent for 30 days or less. They are intended to serve people who are here on vacation.

 

Why should I care about more short-term rentals?

Short-term rentals typically charge many times the going rate for long-term rentals so they are not affordable for workers. They also create a great deal of demand for service workers who then need to find housing; exacerbating a problem we already know we have.

 

What do I need to do?

Show up to vote! There is only one polling place in the basement of the County Administrative building at 200 S. Willow on September 20th. There is no early voting and you will not get an absentee ballot even if you requested one for the November election. You must request an absentee ballot if you cannot vote on the 20th. Vote “NO.”

 

Why are they making it so hard to vote, and why not have the vote during the November election?

Those are good questions to ask our Mayor and Town Council. Phone: 733-3932 ext. 1000. Or email: council@townofjackson.com.

 

I am still confused about the issue. What should I do?

If you “Don’t Know, Vote NO.”

You did it!

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Volunteers took time out of their busy summer schedules to knock on doors and you folks took the time to invite us in, listen, and get involved in the future of your community. Thank you.

Stay engaged.

Here is Save Historic Jackson Hole’s official press release on the outcome of the signature drive to come up with a referendum petition:

 

24 August 2016

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

 

The future of Jackson will go to a vote

Save Historic Jackson Hole was successful in having its petition for referendum certified by the town today, and causing town council to suspend ordinances that would change the zoning in District 2 of downtown Jackson that directly promotes out-of-control growth, increased traffic and overcrowding issues, and does nothing to alleviate the valley’s lack of affordable housing, but would in reality worsen the gap between job creation and people with steady local residency to fill those jobs.

It is not the organization’s desire to derail a long (more than two years in the making) process that has provided (until the 11th hour) for adequate feedback from all groups including paid lobbyists. It is not Save Historic Jackson Hole’s intent to oppose property owners’ rights. We also do not wish to stand in the way of projects that will add to our affordable housing inventory.

This is about none of that.

“The addition of 100,000 square feet of commercial short-term rental is what gives the public the most heartburn. It’s been called a ‘compromise,’ an ‘experiment,’ and a tweak to a section of downtown so small as to be inconsequential,” said Jake Nichols, executive director of Save Historic Jackson Hole. “No, what it is, is an entitlement to out-of-state developers to dig our housing crisis even deeper while they get richer. And what it was, was a last-minute modification made on a promise that was in the three-readings stage—where decisions that have been presumably made are supposed to be merely going through the required formality of public notice.”

At today’s emergency meeting, Councilman Don Frank questioned whether the referendum petition is truly a sign that the majority of the citizens of Jackson believe their elected leaders got off-track. He doesn’t think so. He said he believes the majority of the public is the people who voted him into office, and he for one will stand strong and make the tough decisions for them “without blinking.”

“We prefer Councilman Frank made decisions for his constituents without ‘winking,’” Nichols said. “The late addition of short-term rentals was made, in great part, as a concession to SR Mills alone. He owns McCabe Corner (Jackson’s ‘hole in the ground’). He has said he can’t build affordable housing there if he can only make $30,000 on the project. He would rather make $3 million on the project. The town council essentially helped him add two zero’s to his bottom line. Look, if a developer can’t make their grandiose schemes pencil in Jackson, they are welcome to go down the road to Aspen or Vail and make it work there where those communities are more interested in becoming a resort. Unlike Mr. Mills, we need to be able to live here after developers cash out.”

Remember the line: When you’re in a hole, the first thing to do is stop digging? Building commercial in order to build housing makes no sense. It’s scooping 10 shovelfuls out of a hole in order to toss two back into it. The hole keeps getting deeper. Traffic and crime keep getting worse, and rents keep going up. And the deed-restricted housing created by LDRs in District 2 is NOT affordable housing. It will sell and rent at prices beyond the reach of the neediest in our community.

Save Historic Jackson Hole feels confident that despite what voters might hear in the coming weeks about the special election in September, this is about the power of the people to have their voice heard, not ignored. To be included in the planning of their community’s future, and not be railroaded by big money interests and shady government concessions.

Expect to be marketed to and pitched at by a slick ad campaign. As a small nonprofit we will not be able to compete on the level paid lobbyists can operate at. Please, search your heart and vote your conscience on September 20. Help make Jackson livable.

 

In the news…

JH Media story

Great press from Jackson Hole Media: “Referendum Gains Steam.”

If you don’t know already, Save Historic Jackson Hole is collecting signatures for a referendum to walk back the decision to add 100,000-sf of short-term commercial rental to District 2 in downtown Jackson. It was a sneaky compromise designed to appease one or two developers including SR Mills who owns the Hole in the Ground (McCabe Corner).

Take back your town. If we haven’t found you yet and you want to sign…find us! You need only be a registered voter living in town. Call Justin at 690-6994 or Armond at 730-2274 and we will send someone to get your John Hancock. Let’s do this and show our elected leaders they need to listen to their constituents. We the people run this town, not greedy developers.

Thanks much!

Help us help you

petition

Please sign our petition and take back control of your community and your future.

We are collecting signatures for a referendum to repeal the ordinance that will change zoning in downtown Jackson to allow for even more commercial development in the form of short term rentals. We do not need any more Marriotts. We do not need any more VRBO high end condos where no one lives but developers and owners get rich off of our resort. We are a community first, resort second.

Email us and we will get something to you that you can sign.