By the year 2044, the median home price will be $1.3 million.
Utah County where I live does not want new settlement unless they are done by cities. In my case, I have two lots that were finished 19 months ago and but denied subdivision approval because the county requires their driveways to connect directly to a state or county road and must not pass through twelve feet of my interior, private paved road.
What can be done? Here are some ideas to consider:
- Allow private roads, especially those that will have low traffic. The public doesn’t want to pay for the maintenance of low-traffic roads.
- Allow roads to be completed in phases as cities do. This makes the most sense.
- Bond for temporary cul-de-sacs but don’t build them
- Grant subdivision approval but deny a building permit.
That will enable a seller to sell a lot. Escrow the funds to pave and dedicate the road.
Once dedicated, allow a building permit. It would be difficult to convince a buyer of this.
Today I spoke at the Utah County Commissioners’ Meeting and then sent this email to Brian Voeks, the admin for Utah County Commissioner Bill Lee, and asked he forward these follow-up thoughts to commissioners Bill Lee, Nathan Ivie and Greg Graves:
Commissioner Ivie was concerned this morning that if we stopped flood irrigating our county groundwater may not replenish.
1. I agree—Let’s not eliminate flood irrigation; instead, let’s eliminate the irrigation and landscaping water share requirements for new subdivisions, promote dry farming and let citizens increase county farm production.
Some additional thoughts to consider:
2. Spanish Fork still averages 18 inches of rainfall per year regardless of whether farmers flood irrigate.
3. Mountain waters will still flow to the valleys’ lakes.
4. Leach fields also replenish groundwater: Given the Utah state average of 3.63 persons per household, that’s 290 to 363 gallons dispersed daily by private wastewater treatment systems.
5. Government water share requirements have virtually eliminated discussions on dry farming, crushed farming competition and squashed innovation.
6. Salt and minerals will eventually destroy all county farmland that repeatedly flood irrigates.
7. A median household income of $64,321 qualifies families for a trailer in Utah County cities, not a home; therefore, better use of water and county lands are required for the forecasted population growth. See my calculations below.
Bill Lee and I agree that we like to see green farmland. Sometimes I incorrectly look down upon on county residents without green pastures; however, we as a people may be more likely to win the approbation of heaven if we enable more families to settle in lands outside of incorporated cities.
Play with this form with a mortgage rate of 4.7% APR and see what you can afford.
Annual Household Income: $64,321
Monthly Spending: $1,000
Loan Type: 30-Year Fixed
Annual Property Tax for Provo is 1.75%
Recommended Price: $114,425
Recommended Maximum Price $178,900
That buys you a trailer home.
1. Dry Farming by Dr. John A. Widtsoe
by Robert John Stevens, April 10, 2018
Prices for many of the services performed by the Utah County Health Department rose significantly in 2018, especially by their Environmental Health Department that oversees services for new subdivisions, as I was told at their front desk and by employee Jason Garrett.
These are monopoly services. Do you think licensed, free-market professionals could perform these services as they already do title work? Of course, they could.
Surely the taxpayers are subsidizing these services. I sent Commissioner Bill Lee an email today urging him to dismantle their monopoly. The government needs to get out of the business of monopolizing services.
I suspect knowing this would anger most taxpayers:
Commissioner Bill Lee of Utah County asked me for one question he can ask the Utah County Health Department. Here it is:
If you dig a hole on a property where the soil immediately below the surface is wet from snowmelt, and the hole partially fills with water, are you absolutely certain it is the underground water table level or just a draining puddle?
How can science provide the answer?
Dig a 6′ to 10′ hole next to the shallow hole, install a piezometer encased in gravel and monitor the underground water table level.
Why is this important to me? Because Craig Bostock at the Utah County Health Department wrote in his subdivision feasibility letter for one of my parcels that water was observed 18″ below the surface on my 5.25-acre lot #8 in Benjamin, Utah.
Given 2016 was the wettest year in decades, the snowmelt was rapid and even though the surface was dry enough to walk on, can he be absolutely certain that the water observed at 18″ below the surface in a shallow hole was the underground water table or could it have been snowmelt water slowly sinking?
The answer is obvious to me–he can’t be certain and to make such a claim is fraudulent and phoney science; therefore, to mention that on my subdivision feasibility was abusive and an act of tyranny.
Already one buyer who submitted an offer has backed out after reading Craig’s letter. Would you want to buy a lot and build your dream house on land where someone said the water depth is 18″ below the surface?
If they really think water draining in a shallow hole is the underground water table then they should all be fired. If they don’t believe that but uphold it then they still should be fired.
No taxpayer-subsidized service monopolized by a government that can be performed as well or better by qualified citizens in the marketplace should be permitted in a free society. I’ll write more on this subject later.
by Robert John Stevens, February 22, 2018
It was never my intention to be a land developer. I thought people could buy farmland and move onto it. Utah County has so many utility requirements that I had to develop and sell off lots to pay for them. For example, I could have used geothermal, solar and/or wind energy instead of having more than a half mile of trench dug and cable installed for Rocky Mountain Power.
Most people can only imagine there’s a lot of hoops to jump through.
The difficulty is fighting tyrannical governments and their hundreds of pages of stale, corrupted, inflexible laws, and dealing with their employee’s unrighteous dominion and animosity towards We the People.
If you’ve ever had to buy a service from the government or get their permission to do something, you know that they are usually awful to deal with. No service that private markets can render should be monopolized by governments.
I’ve attended dozens of county and planning meetings and have never heard the word liberty used outside of the Pledge of Allegiance. Some employees feel it is the proper role of government to provide for the safety, welfare and health of the people; they forget that Founding Fathers knew the property role of government was to protect liberty–your right to do whatever you please without government intervention as long as you don’t hurt your neighbors. There is a huge difference.
— Robert John Stevens, February 6, 2018
At today’s Utah County Commissioners’ January 23, 2018 Meeting, Commissioners Lee and Ivie voted to rezone many sections of land on West Mountain to a new grazing zone where no new mining or earth extraction operations are permitted to commence.
By doing so, they literally elevated the operations there to monopoly status. Pits are now free to raise their prices without fear of newcomers. The BLM and federal landowners were all excluded from the change because they asked to be. The small landowner probably didn’t have time to respond.
Although packaged and presented under the guise of protecting West Mountain for its beauty and natural resources, proof that this move was always intended to create monopolies is found in the UTAH COUNTY PLANNING COMMISSION STAFF REPORT November 21, 2017 specifically says, “This new zone would maintain the grazing of livestock on the open range and the location of activities and land uses not appropriate near urban centers in the dry mountain and desert areas of the county, while preventing any new earth extraction operations and other potentially incompatible uses with residential and agricultural uses from commencing operation.”
By preventing new earth extraction options to commence, Utah County created cooperating monopolies. As Commissioner Greg Graves said in last Tuesday’s commissioner’s meeting, “Expect prices to go up.” Commissioner Graves today cast the only dissenting vote.
Under Utah’s Anti-Trust Laws, anticompetitive activities are illegal.
I’ve heard of government-created monopolies but until today I never witnessed their creation. Truly, today was a sad day for Utah County, liberty and free markets.
by Robert John Stevens, January 23, 2018
I was curious so today I called Richard Nelson the Director of Utah County Public Works and asked a few questions. Here are my notes.
Utah County has about 540 miles of roads with an annual maintenance budget of $3 million. Of that 540 miles, 375-380 miles are paved.
Richard wishes his annual budget was $9 million. Comparatively, other counties have about $6 million for the same amount of road and they too are short on funds.
Public Works get their materials from Staker Parson (West Mountain and Point of the Mountain), Kilgore (West Mountain and Point of the Mountain), and Geneva Rock (Point of Mountain, Lake Mtn and their yard in Orem).
Public Works requests bids and they are usually within a dollar per ton of each other. The pit closest to where the work needs to be done is usually chosen.
There is usually no road maintenance for the first seven years and then they do a slurry seal. Usually, they are in and out within a day.
After 28-30 years they do an asphalt overlay with 2-3″ of new asphalt.
Gravel roads require more maintenance.
Public Works has no budget for new roads, not even for the expected population growth, and must compete with the cities for money from Mtn Lands Association of Government or the gas tax.
Cities with more traffic on their roads usually win the money for new roads.
Ideally, new cities will form and other cities will expand but even if they did expand to West Mountain and Utah Lake, Public Works would still have hundreds of miles of county roads to maintain.
My Thoughts–I was shocked to hear of their small $3 million-dollar annual budget to maintain 540 miles of road.
In comparison, my new 3/4-mile road alone will cost about $400k.
Utah County needs competing earth extraction pits just to save money on hauling. Materials and quality differ from each location.
Like hinges on a swinging door, price increases in materials and hauling will have large consequences for Utah County, developers and private citizens.
–Robert John Stevens, January 18, 2018
January 17, 2018
At the Utah County Commissioner Meeting yesterday, Commissioner Greg Graves revealed he had pushed towards the privatization of government services and that he and the other commissioners had visited a government who had privatized its services but he was voted down by the other two commissioners Bill Lee and Nathan Ivie.
I was shocked because months ago Commissioner Bill Lee told me he was all for privatization and they were going to visit a county government that had gone private–I think he said it was in Georgia.
Some government employees such as Brandon Larsen in Utah County Planning & Zoning provide excellent customer service. Brandon answers all of my questions, cites county regulations to support his answers and explain my options, and whenever he doesn’t immediately have answers he says he must talk to staff and then follows up by email with detailed answers.
Although I don’t always agree with the county planning and zoning regulations, I respect Brandon Larsen because he reads the regulations, tries wherever he can to improve them, and abides by them.
In contrast, Utah County Environmental Health provides the worst-quality customer service imaginable. They refuse to answer my questions or reveal the laws to which they must adhere. They ignore all my requests to explain their processes and scientific methods before, during or after performing services for which I pay. Whatever they rule is mandatory even when they make a mistake.
To make matters worse, they sick their lawyers on me—the same lawyers who instruct Environmental Health employees to not answer my questions and to route all correspondence with me through them.
Last week, Jason Garrett emailed me and said they would answer my questions if I cancel the underground water monitoring for which I paid. Can you imagine being treated with such contempt by a company who wants to stay in business?
When a business treats you well, you are happy and motivated to employ them or shop at their store. You are happy to return regularly or whenever necessity requires. Costco employees are great examples of excellent, friendly service—they always smile and talk to us and whenever we must return anything, they are always pleasant and willing. Over the years at least three Costco female employees good became friends.
Doug’s Auto in Orem is another excellent example of outstanding, personable service. Doug and his two sons Jake and Kirk always save us money and sometimes don’t charge us because of our loyalty. Even more importantly, they know our names, our vehicle history, explain problems and solutions clearly and treat us as friends.
I would be thrilled if Doug, Jake and Kirk come to my funeral.
When you are not treated well by a business, you may demand to speak to a manager who is usually anxious to help and ensure your satisfaction.If you are still upset, to prevent others from experiencing similar, awful service, you may file a complaint with the Better Business Bureau or submit a bad review online on Yelp or Google Reviews.
Many employees outside of government have been fired for treating customers poorly but how often are government employees fired?
What recourse do you have when the government monopolizes their services and treats you with hostility? None.
by Robert John Stevens
Tomorrow, January 16, 2018, Utah County Commissioners will either embrace free market principles or break Utah’s Anti-Trust Laws, eliminate competitors and establish a monopoly.
The UTAH COUNTY PLANNING COMMISSION STAFF REPORT November 21, 2017 specifically says, “This new zone would maintain the grazing of livestock on the open range and the location of activities and land uses not appropriate near urban centers in the dry mountain and desert areas of the county, while preventing any new earth extraction operations and other potentially incompatible uses with residential and agricultural uses from commencing operation.”
Now compare that to Utah’s Anti-Trust Laws: 76-10-3104 Illegal anticompetitive activities.
(1) Every contract, combination in the form of trust or otherwise, or conspiracy in restraint of trade
or commerce is declared to be illegal.
(2) It shall be unlawful for any person to monopolize, or attempt to monopolize, or combine or
conspire with any other person or persons to monopolize, any part of trade or commerce.
Update January 17, 2018
Utah County Commissioners Bill Lee and Nathan Ivie voted in favor and passed the new grazing regulation. Next week’s agenda is to move many land sections on West Mountain under the new zoning regulation.
This was a sad day for Utah County. Many citizens attended and spoke. When it was my turn to speak I handed the commissioners a copy of their own words proving the intent was to eliminate competition. Bill Lee said it wasn’t phrased correctly. Regardless, the outcome will make no difference if approved next week. Only Commissioner Greg Graves voted against it but he at least agreed with me that because of what they are doing, prices will go up.
Utah County, as well as cities, towns and villages, may legally pass zoning laws regardless of what our conscience says is right or wrong. Pre-1913 there were almost no regulations in the United States and yet we manufactured more than any other nation in the world. The wealth per citizen was greater than today and its distribution favored the middle class.
I suspect regulations were pushed on the American people and sold to them via propaganda regardless of the proven free-market principles that worked, because regulations grow government and bigger governments borrow more and debt was the essence of the private Federal Reserve shareholders’ business model.
Regulations, although not upheld by lower courts, began with this Supreme Court briefing in 1926:
Village of Euclid v. Ambler Realty Co., 272 U.S. 365 (1926)
You may want to at least read the summary.
I doubt the United States or Utah County will turn to its roots that free-markets will prevail without government intervention until a constitutional government is recreated after a major catastrophe or God returns to rule the survivors.