Who deserves praise and criticism in Northern Utah this week
The Weber County Commission is taking yet another look at the sticky wicket of short-term housing rentals in the unincorporated areas of the county.
On the one hand, it’s a property-rights issue. Should owners of homes, condominiums and the like be prevented from renting out their properties to short-term visitors?
On the other hand, it’s also a quality-of-life issue. Should residents be forced to put up with the increased noise and traffic brought on by a constant stream of visitors to these short-term rental properties offered by their neighbors?
The problem of such rentals — think Airbnb or VRBO — is especially noticeable in the Ogden Valley, due to the recreation opportunities offered by Pineview Reservoir and the Snowbasin, Powder Mountain and Nordic Valley ski resorts.
County officials recently launched a series of meetings focused on the issues related to short-term rentals. Public input will be sought, and the county is hoping to craft a plan of action and guidelines to govern these properties before the snow falls and the ski season is upon us.
With any luck, the county will finally be able to come up with solutions that satisfy all parties involved.
Computer science education in grades K-12 just got a huge boost.
The Farmington-based company Pluralsight has teamed up with the Utah State Board of Education to make access to technology and computer science resources more accessible for school children — and those who teach them.
Pluralsight is providing a five-year, $38.95 million product grant to the state’s schools to advance tech education and the cause of computer science. The need is certainly there.
If the numbers are to be believed, they’re shocking. Just 54% of public high schools in the state teach computer science — primarily because there are too few educators who are familiar with computer science concepts.
Pluralsight executive director Lindsey Kneuven believes computer science is “a foundational literacy” and “a competency that will really unlock opportunities for students, no matter which industry they wish to pursue.”
And really, in 2020, who doesn’t believe that?
Remember how folks in the state of Utah used to fight — continue to fight, really — over the approval of little ol’ liquor licenses in their fair communities? We suspect such moral skirmishes are nothing compared to the Civil War looming over the location of businesses related to medical marijuana.
The canabis-growing operation Zion Pharmaceuticals is hoping to locate in western Weber County, joining Harvest of Utah as the second such business in the county. The company recently went to the county seeking a zoning amendment to allow plans to move forward.
Although the Weber County Commission approved the change (which will now likely need to be revisited due to a poorly worded amendment), at least one commissioner worried about Weber County being gripped with some sort of reefer-growing madness.
Ultimately, Commissioner Scott Jenkins agreed to the zoning change, but not before expressing concern about the idea of drawing an excessive number of cannabis operations to his county — which, apparently, he defines as any number of growers above the bare minimum required to keep the county from being sued.
“I don’t want to be a county of marijuana producing,” Jenkins said at a recent meeting. “I want to have a marijuana unit approved to comply with state code and that’s it.”
That’s the spirit!
Jenkins went on to say that there’s good agricultural land in the county, and he worries that cannabis “pays a whole lot more than corn pays.”
True enough. But as Commissioner Gage Froerer pointed out in that same meeting, the state has only granted eight cannabis-growing licenses. Eight. So it’s not like we’re going to see a pot grow on every corner.
Weber County is reportedly home to Utah’s third-largest population of people with state-issued cannabis cards, just behind Salt Lake and Utah counties. It makes sense that a significant share of the state’s growers would be located in those counties.
The sick just keep getting sicker.
The Utah Department of Health is in the process of closing its Health Clinics of Utah in Ogden, Provo and Salt Lake City, leaving thousands of patients without care. The clinics primarily serve the uninsured, Medicare and Medicaid patients, as well as state employees.
A recent special session of the Utah Legislature in June opted to cut the $2.4 million that goes toward three medical clinics, two dental clinics and one mobile clinic between the three cities.
“I know the legislature says the private sector will absorb them (the patients), but they haven’t for 36 years,” said Michelle Grossman, the clinic manager in Salt Lake City.
For a country that keeps talking about world-class health care, we seem to be headed in the wrong direction.