Paul Recanzone is a man who keeps an eye on Salt Lake County's foothills and canyons. He believes, as we do, that development or protection of these critical areas will define much of the future of Utah's largest county.
The Democratic candidate for the District 6 seat on the County Council believes that the council of 2013 will decide whether to give teeth to the Foothills and Canyons Overlay Zone or let development happen without strict limits and regulation. He is right, and that is one reason we give Recanzone our endorsement.
He rightly points out that the foothills in Salt Lake County cannot support the increased traffic that development proposals such as Terry Diehl's 350-unit Tavaci subdivision would bring. Draper made a mistake in approving Suncrest on its steep eastern hillsides, and the county should avoid similar errors in the future.
Recanzone also takes the long view on countywide services. Eventually he would like to see the quilt-block pattern of municipalities replaced with a more centralized government providing services efficiently through better economy of scale. He supports transit-oriented development of high-density housing near TRAX and FrontRunner stations, rather than the unsustainable culture of quarter-acre lots creating sprawl throughout the valley.
Councilman Max Burdick, Recanzone's opponent in the district, is focused more on another important county service, the criminal justice system. He rightly favors residential treatment and early case resolution as alternatives to jail overcrowding. Those are important issues.
But, while he takes no position on the upcoming vote for incorporation of Millcreek, he believes the future of the county will be wall-to-wall cities, with county government providing many countywide services and privatizing others. That split-identity structure seems less efficient than Recanzone's idea of fewer, not more, political divisions.
Burdick voices no strong opinion on foothill and canyon development, though he believes the SkiLink proposal to build a tram connecting Solitude resort in Big Cottonwood Canyon with Canyons resort east of the mountain in Summit County may be necessary to give resort operators what they need to survive.
Although he said he would support such canyon connections only if the environment can be protected, he is much less committed to preserving the natural areas that contain precious watershed than is Recanzone.
Recanzone would be good for the county.