Babs DeLay

Babs DeLay

April 21, 2019

St. Gorgeous

St. George is America’s fastest-growing city, according to the University of Utah Kem. Gardner Policy Institute. They grew in population by almost 4% last year. Why is that do you think?

It’s certainly become retirement heaven for many Baby Boomers as the climate is similar to Arizona.  It still has a ‘small town’ feeling and a personality of old and new architecture, small local businesses and the inevitable chains. Plus it’s 120 miles to Las Vegas and 42 miles to Zion National Park.

The scenic area was named in honor of Mormon apostle George A. Smith. He was known as ‘the Potato Saint’ because he urged early settlers to eat raw and unpeeled potatoes to cure scurvy.  Come to find out, potatoes are a great vegetable source of vitamin C and eating the C is a pretty obvious cure for scurvy. The first people that inhabited the area were the Anasazi who grew crops along the Virgin River. I’ve hiked up a hill behind a gas station at the south end of town and seen many of their pictographs on boulders. The next people to settle were the Pauites and then various Spanish explorers and trappers. The LDS Church sent an experimental mission south of Salt Lake to see if the area was good to grow cotton (turned out, it wasn’t). Thus, the area was known as “Utah’s Dixie’ and still to this day has a nickname that reminds you of the cotton growing states in the U.S. The ‘Potato Saint’ actually never lived there but sent people to farm the land and set up businesses and run the church arms in that part of the state. The Church built a Tabernacle which opened in 1875 which can be seen by most of the people of the town today as a manmade landscape beacon of direction.

Since those early days St. George has just kept growing. If you’re not retired yet, big employers include SkyWest Airlines, Dixie College, the now-famous ‘Squatty Potty’ (best poop of your life!) are there, as is Walmart distribution, Sunroc, Costco and of course, many different home builders like Ence Homes, Sullivan Homes, Bangerter Homes and Sun River.  The housing crunch has hit the area hard for home buyers, and rental properties for blue collar workers are scarce. I have heard from several local REALTORS that there are ZERO rental properties available and if a sign or ad goes up there are 10 or 20 people trying to outbid each other to sign a lease with the landlord. AIRBNB is a factor that’s added to low inventory for people visiting nearby Zion National Park.  It’s a quick 5 hour-ish drive or one hour flight from Salt Lake City.

April 21, 2019

Rural Charm

I’ve been selling real estate since before there were mobile phones or the internet and when homes around Liberty Park used to sell for $29,900. I sold a friend a home in the Bountiful hills back then-a big one with @3500 sq. ft. for $79,000.  She and her husband thought they were paying way too much but loved the view. Jump forward a few years and the LDS Church announced they were going to build the Bountiful Temple. Soon, million dollar homes were being built all around them and my friends were very very happy with their now high neighborhood value.

This month the same saints announced a Temple would be built in Tooele, Utah (known as ‘the last McDonalds stop before Wendover’).  As Tooele is less than a 30 minute drive from the Capitol City it’s been seeing a building boom of residential homes-homes that are much less expensive than new construction projects in the Salt Lake Valley. NOW their real estate market will improve even more-especially near the new Temple site and folks will move further west to Grantsville where new homes sell in the low $200’s and the average price for a home in the Salt Lake Valley is $361,000.

I love Grantsville!  I just took a listing out there and got to revisit the sleepy little town where I used to hunt for ghost towns, old dumps and treasures during college.  It’s just 12 minutes past Tooele on Highway 138 or off its own exit on I-80. They’ve got a newer city hall and great library in the tiny downtown area, a grocery store and plenty of homes dedicated to hair salons. South Fork Hardware has baby chicks on sale right now and ya gotta love when you buy hay at that store that the owner grew it himself. I asked a woman in the checkout line there why she lived there and she smiled and said ‘I got tired of big town Phoenix and the traffic. I have horses and this place is great and close to Salt Lake!’ Many folks live in Grantsville because it IS rural and because it’s not much farther than downtown to Herriman on a bad traffic day. It’s 33 miles to the Salt Lake Airport and even closer to the new prison and Inland Port sites. You bet as those projects get built both little cities will see massive influx of renters and home buyers. If you take the I-80 exit you’ll drive a two lane road past beefalo (‘steaks for sale’) ranches, cows, horses and dog kennels. It’s picturesque : a 1920’s rusty school bus parked in a field with a few black angus cows leaning against it for shade; sheep who are chewing away at grass while all the new lambs jump around in the spring sun; and mountains on both sides of the valley with the smell of cattle and hay in the air.

If you head from Tooele you’ll go past the historic 150 year old Benson Grist Mill,  past the Utah Motorsports Campus and the turnoff to the Utah FIRE Museum at the Deseret Peak Complex.  That place has groovy old firetrucks preserved and inside from the elements that young and old kids love. Take a trek some Saturday and see what’s west in the next valley. Now that a Temple is coming the rural charm of the area will slowly be going away.

April 21, 2019

Are you prepared?

Springtime in the Rockies is terrific. We can get four seasons in one day, ski in the morning and golf in the afternoon. And we’ll always get some snow dumper of ultra-wet flakes that will bring down a branch from just about every other tree around.

A few weeks ago we had a doozy in Salt Lake City, where in just one Friday almost 2” of moisture fell from the sky. This is more water than we ever get in March of any given year and I predict with the trees sucking up sap to bring out leaves and global warming keeping us wet that we’ll have another one or two dumpers before the valleys can say goodbye to our famous white stuff.  As I drove to my office that morning I saw several cars smashed to smithereens under huge downed limbs and trees and knew way too many folk who lost power due to electric lines that came down during the early morning hours. Rocky Mountain Power reported that more than 19,000 residents in the Capitol City were without power as a result of the storm, and almost 4,000 didn’t get their power back until two days later.

Local saints are told to prepare for disasters and to assemble an emergency food supply in case of the end of days. Let’s just say most of us DON’T have more than a small cupboard of odd canned foods and cereal boxes and many frozen microwavable meals. Without power though, milk goes bad and you can’t nuke your dinner. Maybe consider the fact that even in summer power can go out, emergencies can occur and we all might do well in being a bit prepared. Sure, you can invest in a small generator for a few hundred to a few thousand bucks, but there are simpler things to do to prepare for disaster, such as:  

1) call the power company to check on outages

2) try not to open and close your fridge/freezer often. Food should last 24-36 hours if you keep the doors mostly closed

3) keep fuel for your BBQ handy even in winter, but NEVER light your grill inside

4) keep emergency candles and a few flashlights with good batteries in an area where you all know they are stashed

5) check out on line or at local stores ’72 hour kits’ for your home that include food, personal items and survival items.

 

Go to www.redcross/org for suggestions on filling a preparedness kit for your home. Also, always have a dash kit in case you have to run from your home that will have an emergency stash of cash, copies of ID’s and or passports, batteries, cords, extra keys, blankets, shoes and clothes. If you’ve got to grab and go due to a fire, flood or earthquake make sure you have pet carriers close by, extra diapers, feminine hygiene products, toilet paper and food and water for three days for all. Don’t forget your meds either, and back up any important documents onto a USB stick.   

March 28, 2019

Greektown

Many large cities in the United State have specific ethnic neighborhoods that developed over the years like San Francisco’s Chinatown; India Square in Jersey City, New Jersey and Little Odessa, Brooklyn, New York; Little Saigon in San Diego, California and Koreatown in Dallas, Texas. Salt Lake used to have J-Town on 100 South between 200 and 300 West and Greektown which surrounded the Church of Holy Trinity on 300 South and 300 West. All that’s left of those two neighborhoods are churches and some properties that they own.

This year before the annual Greek Festival was to happen downtown, I got a call from a member of the Greek community who said they were anticipating major parking problems with the festival. If you haven’t driven into the neighborhood since the Summer Farmer’s Markets in Pioneer Park ended, you would not have seen the residential high rise going up that’s slapped almost onto the back of Tony Caputo’s deli or noticed that Pierpont Avenue is blocked off for the building construction there. Also, the parking lot just south of the Crane Building on 200 South and 300 West is also full of construction vehicles as was the pay parking lot across the street where the Greek Fest sets up it’s inflatable bounce house and kids slide.  I suggested they work closely with UTA and get the patrons of the Festival educated on how easy it would be to ride the bus and TRAX to the September event rather than drive their cars and grumble about ‘no parking’.

The Holy Trinity and the other Greek Church (Prophet Elias) are talking to local developers to come up with ideas of how to provide income for the cathedral from it’s land holdings but also how to creatively re-vision the old Greektown neighborhood with updated housing, retail and office spaces to the dozen or so pieces of real estate they own surrounding the Cathedral by Pioneer Park. This includes the parking lot by the Crane building, the pay parking lot north of the Cathedral, some odd land parcels and the La France Apartment complex.

The La France apartments are around row houses that were built in 1905 before the Cathedral was designed and finished in 1923. They are a total retro heaven of run down low income housing that was originally built to last with high quality brick construction and old growth hardwood features. Just about every artist I’ve ever known has spent some time renting there or hanging out there. There are porches to each little attached house and neighbors sit in the summer and talk to people coming and going on Wayne Court and hold parties and festivals of their own. It’s a pretty groovy place to live and tenants never ever want to give up their leases. Sadly, the Greeks who own the La France haven’t had the funds to renovate the row houses and their fate may fall to a future wrecking ball. There’s no decision yet as to what the future will bring for old Greektown but the ghosts and history of the neighborhood will always remain.

March 11, 2019

No More Miracles

When I was 15 years old, I was sent by my family to a small private school by the name of Wasatch Academy in little Mt. Pleasant, Utah, just north of Manti on scenic Highway 89.  Manti is the site of the fifth temple built by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and you cannot miss that stone white church when you cruise through town because it sits high atop a hill overlooking the Sanpete valley.

Most people know Manti because of the Mormon Miracle Pageant which has been held on the grounds outside the Temple every summer since 1967. But alas, the church has announced that 2019 will be the last time visitors can see the outdoor theatrical performance where Christ visits America. You may say ‘This ain’t my circus and not my monkey’, but the fine folk of this tiny central Utah are mighty sad and returning visitors will miss Manti’s famous BBQ turkey sandwiches.  The two week extravaganza draws over 15,000 people to a town that has little more than 3000 residents and is massive money-maker for gas stations, hotels, restaurants and the businesses that line Main Street during the last two weeks of June.

The pageant is the story of the early days of the Church (think hand carts) and LDS tales and beliefs of characters and events of ancient American inhabitants found in the Book of Mormon. It was written by Grace Johnson in the 1940’s and in the 1950’s both BYU and BYU-Hawaii used her story as a reader’s theater at the schools. It was adapted into the pageant form in 1970 by Macksene Rux who directed the shows in Manti from 1970 to 1989. During the early years it was funded by local donations and vehicles were banned on Temple grounds so props, scenery, chairs, and equipment had to be hauled up the hill or put over the fence. It was an instant hit with locals and tourists and over 4.5 million visitors have watched the show since it’s beginning. There are over 1000 cast members, each in a costume and none are paid. You can volunteer right now by going on the website to participate in this last and final production.

What’s odd is that in 1991 the church announced that the production would close after 25 successful years. The Vice-chair of the pageant, President Gordon B. Hinkley refused to cancel the show! Will someone from the Quorum step up and save the town and the show like Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney did in the 1939 movie ‘Babes in Arms’?  Only the Church will tell. My guess is this show will sell out almost as fast as the Tabernacle Choir’s gig with Kristin Chenoweth Christmas Concert at Temple Square. Both holiday concerts and the pageant have always been free, but you have to get tickets (www.mantipageant.org) to attend the show.

March 08, 2019

A Trolley's Back

This past October a large crane lowered an original street car (picture a cable car in San Francisco) in front of the Pottery Barn and just south of Whole Foods back to its home in Trolley Square on 700 East and 500 South. It is so ironic to me that at one time almost half the population of Salt Lake City rode trolley cars around town on almost 150 miles of track and today the Utah Transit Authority (UTA) can barely fill the TRAX trains during rush hours on less than 50 miles of rail. What was in went out, and now we want it back because mass transit is good.

The first trolley company was started by sons of Brigham Young and their first passenger trolley car was pulled by mules along 300 West South Temple to 300 South and State. I found a trolley ticket in an old book of Robert Browning poems I bought years ago and the fare was five cents. Originally it cost ten cents to ride but the brothers found by lowering the price they’d get more riders. The first electric streetcars in Utah began operating in October of 1908 and they were housed in the beautiful Mission-style buildings at Trolley Square.

I was a Planning and Zoning Commissioner for Salt Lake City when Whole Foods came to the city and wanted to put in a mega store smack dab in the middle of this historic block. I was definitely not a fan of the size of the project and how its designers originally failed to fit the new in with the old, but as you can see, Whole Foods did downsize its design and eventually fit in among the historic ‘barns’. They were built by a notorious railroad tycoon named Edward H. Harriman. He was infamous for never stopping to hunt down Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid who had robbed his trains many times. He bought the 10 acre block of Trolley Square that had originally been the ‘Territorial Fairgrounds’ and put in the buildings that eventually held 144 street cars. There were blacksmiths and carpenters, conductors and electricians working inside the buildings. The old First Security Bank stand-alone structure (now gone and previously located where Whole Foods is now) was used to store sand needed for the rail system.

There’s a lot of history at Trolley Square and bringing back probably the only remaining original trolley car makes many people smile. It had been in storage for almost a decade after bulldozers came to start the food chain’s new location. The car has last housed the Trolley Wing Co. The urban mall is undergoing growth under new owner Khosrow Semnani and we may see a return of movie theaters, a food court as well as the multifamily development that will be going in across the street (600 South).

http://www.trolleysquare.com/history/

February 27, 2019

Water Terror

Sandy City residents are pretty pissed off that their water managers didn’t let them know that the fluoride tank in the main pump room added waaaay too much of the chemical to city water two weeks ago and turned some faucet blasts yellow-no bueno!  This chemical, promoted to prevent tooth decay, also can accelerate water pipe corrosion. So why are we putting this chemical in our water?

Step back in time to January 25, 1945 when Grand Rapids, Michigan became the first U.S. City to fluoridate it’s drinking water. The city did their due diligence and decided that adding fluoride (a toxic chemical in high doses) would be a good thing to protect the tooth enamel of children and adults. Well, right wing opponents immediately chimed in to say that adding the chemical to the water was a communist plot and that this added chemical would ‘Bring America to its knees by poisoning the water supply.’ We were, at that time, deep into a Cold War against the Soviet Union and their respective allies. Rumors were flying that communists were infiltrating every inch of American life and that we should be diligent in protecting ourselves from the ‘Red Terror’. Anyhoodle, as the years wore on, the fluoride scare faded away and the Cold War ended.

A few years ago, WIRED magazine reported that “roughly 170 million Americans drink fluoridated water today, and statistics show that dental health in the U.S. has improved dramatically as a direct result of it”. In the 1970’s Utah public health officials explored adding fluoride to water treatment facilities in Salt Lake County. Park City, Orem and Tooele had it in their water, but only 2.5% of the entire state drank the chemical in their daily water intake. A poll by the Public Utilities Dept. found 70% of 705 local residents were in favor of fluoridation. The 1,100 member Utah Dental Association was in favor of adding it noting that Utah was one of the least fluoridated states in the country. It got on the ballot and failed.

In 2003 voters in Davis and Salt Lake Counties approved fluoride in our water supplies. The Center for Disease Control had urged ALL states to put in the optimum levels of the chemical to prevent tooth decay. The chair of the Utah County Health Board stated that ‘Tooth decay is unbridled in Utah…call it an epidemic, especially among our low-income people…and dental disease is the largest health problem among elementary school children.”

Now it seems we may not want this chemical in our water any more. Sandy citizens in public hearings pointed out that fluoride is in virtually every toothpaste and that we don’t need additives to our drinking water supply.  Methinks since the power outage/accident in Sandy (which caused the massive amount of chemical to be released into the water system) that more people may be talking about their own drinking water. Sandy officials found copper and lead in the water after the accident which caused them to hand out water bottles to citizens in the effected areas. The EPA website has much info on safe drinking water at www.epa.gov ‘home water testing’.

https://www.deseretnews.com/article/575194/Fluoride-in-Utah-Well-Cold-Wars-over.html

https://health.utah.gov/oralhealth/fluorideGuidelines.php

https://www.wired.com/2012/01/jan-25-1945-fluoridation-better-teeth-or-commie-plot/

February 12, 2019

Be Careful

Picture this: you’re a self-employed REALTOR (we all are self employed). You haven’t sold a home in a month and a potential buyer calls and wants to see your new listing you just put on the market. It’s kinda in the middle of nowhere, but you agree to meet this stranger at 8 PM in the dark. You show up and the stranger turns out to be a rapist, robber, murderer or all of the above. This happened to a local agent about twenty some odd years ago who worked at a real estate brokerage in Sugar House. This was pre-internet days when those free ‘homes’ magazines were out at every grocery store. In this woman’s story we learned (later) that the perpetrator profiled the agent by her photo that was published in the magazine and went to check out her listings to see which one was the most secluded, with the least amount of neighbors. He liked her looks and so called her, offered to pick her up at her office, and took her out there. She began to show him the home,  walked down into the basement ahead of him and he then grabbed her and raped her. This sick f-k then drove her back to her office (located across from the Rape Recovery Center) but was soon tracked down by a helicopter/dogs in the canyon and arrested, convicted, and went to prison.

REALTORS drive nice cars and show nice homes and are victims of crime all over the United States.  This unfortunate fact was brought back home this past week when three people allegedly killed a local real estate agent and hid his body in the crawl space of a home they were renting. The agent had gone to evict the tenants but sadly they decided to evict him off the planet. They supposedly cleaned up the property by pulling out the bloody carpet (but neglected to wipe the hardwood floors) and stole his car. It took two days for the police to find his body after he was reported missing.

My friend and fellow REALTOR, Dave Stokoe, worked for RanLife Real Estate in Sandy, Utah. He was a stand-up guy, who, despite being self-employed, was always in a cheery mood. He leaves behind a wife and four kids. Could he have prevented the attack? We don’t know the real details but we do know no one should ever lose their life over a property dispute. A vigil with hundreds of folks was held last Monday and a page has been set up to help his family with funeral expenses.

www.gofundme.com/in-memory-of-dave-stokoe.  

How safe is your work environment? In this day and age even walking to your car to go home can be scary. Dave didn’t get up the morning of January 17th and expect to die. Be careful out there folks and make sure you give a hug to the people you love every day…because one day your life will flash before your eyes and you better make sure it’s worth watching.

February 12, 2019

Practice What You Preach

Ugh, the Utah State Legislature is back in session. Hide your wallets, and gird your loins brothers and sisters! Did you know nine of every 10 legislators are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and are white, male and Republican? That data might explain how the legal blood alcohol level got changed this year to .05-the lowest in the country, and how Prop 2 (the voter-approved access to medical cannabis) may be legal to use but completely impossible to obtain for a long, long time. They love to gird their loins and ours as well, and gosh, they do it for so little pay.  But hey, all elected officials get to park free in Salt Lake City during the 45 days they are in session.

There are many parking spaces at and around our state capitol building and two large public lots east of the Senate building. While votes come and go, committees meet, and back room deals happen in those sacred halls on the hill, citizens can have a hard time finding any open spaces once the 29 senators and 75 representatives, and their staff members park their vehicles. If you’ve ever been to a protest on the hill during the annual legislative session you know how hard it is to park and hopefully have learned NOT to try and park there by walking, biking or taking transit.  Neighbors of the building do get heightened protection from parking enforcement this time of year because there are so many violators parking illegally by blocking private citizen’s driveways and alleyways (I know, I used to live across the street). Frankly, it’s a big parking and often traffic mess during that month and a half every year.

The irony is that UTA has Bus Route 500 set up to run FREE to and from downtown to the Capitol building and back each year, and the bus is often empty. You can catch it at the stop right above the Church office parking under Main Street and the Church headquarters.  There are also 32,000 parking spaces in downtown Salt Lake City where a person could park and then walk to a bus stop to avoid the parking hell on the hill. Salt Lake’s mayor says she wants all of us to use public transit to help cut down on our air but then encourages legislators to park (which means they have to drive first)  for free downtown during the session. In her January 2019 State of the City address she said: “From expanding bus service to working cooperatively with companies like UTA, Lyft, Uber, GreenBike, Bird and Lime, Salt Lake City is committed to exploring every idea to help people move around in a greener way.”

Maybe the Mayor envisions elected state officials will fill up their pork barrels at R & R BBQ and then waddle through the snow to a UTA stop so they can attend a Senate Agriculture Committee meeting to find ways to get tax cuts to mega corporate pig farms near Delta.  No, that will never happen because UTA ridership statistics show that most people in our state do not take public transit, including the Mayor and most of the legislators. IF the Mayor threw out the free parking rule then maybe a few of the elected might actually park in a Frontrunner lot and take a train, TRAX and bus to the hill? Don’t all elected officials seem to say in their campaign propaganda that they want to see expanded UTA service and cleaner air? Practice what you preach.

https://www.slc.gov/blog/2019/01/17/salt-lake-city-mayor-addresses-housing-transit-clean-air-and-public-safety-in-2019-state-of-the-city-address/

www.house.utah.gov

www.wikipedia.org

December 28, 2018

Winter Water

If you live along the Wasatch Front you may be enjoying the Jordan River Parkway Trail now that it’s completed. The river that runs from fresh water Utah Lake in Utah County to the Utah’s own version of the ‘Dead Sea’ (the Great Salt Lake) has been here for eons, but the paved trail and bridge sections for runners, walkers and bikers was only just finished in 2017 when the final bridge by the Utah State Fair Park was erected. This sweet path running through our valleys connects to the Legacy trail on the north and the Murdock Canal trail to the south, giving us 100+ miles of paved trails along the waterway. You can fish in it for Channel Cats, Bass, Bullheads, Carp and even trout with simple worm bait, kayak, and paddle board. The group ‘Utah Outdoors’ leads regular trips down the river in the summer, but you have to provide all your own equipment from boat to paddles and mandatory life jackets. There are about a dozen boat launch ramps that begin in the Orem area and lead past downtown Salt Lake. Outdoors types here love our mountains and red rocks down south but often forget about the Jordan River and the trails we have now.

Utah historians agree that the first part of Mormon pioneers arrived in the Salt Lake Valley, and five days later another party led by Brigham Young cross the Jordan River and bathes in the Great Salt Lake. The religious explorers likened the Utah river to the River Jordan in the Middle East across the planet where the Sea of Galilee drains into the Dead sea. Soon Utahn’s named the Jordan River here and groups of settlers began camps along feed creeks and rivers to the Jordan along Big and Little Cottonwood Creeks, Parley’s, Emigration and Mill creek. The river was used to float granite rock from the Little Cottonwood quarry to North Temple to be hauled up the street to Temple Square. The railroads also used the slow moving river to float logs and ties as they built rail lines through the urban areas.

Salt Lake City has announced that a second Tracy Aviary will build a second location along the river as it’s second campus in the next year and City officials plan to fund rope courses, climbing walls, canoe and bike rentals in a new park planned @Highway 201 North to about 4500 South.  There’s funding for this and police from several different agencies are also stepping forward with help to monitor homeless camps and heavy crime spots at and near those camps to make the trail safer for recreation seekers and just folks wanting to experience nature here along this slowing winding river. Grab an E-bike or just a group of friends and take a stroll this winter to see the wildlife along the banks and in the trees. Get some fresh air when you can during a low inversion day and you’ll come back as it gets warmer to maybe actually get in the water with a kayak or boat.