My View
With tourism's success, how to defend our quality of life?
by Chaz Howard
Aug 10, 2017 | 289 views | 0 0 comments | 36 36 recommendations | email to a friend | print


Thank you Moab Mayor Dave Sakrison for your public stand on the need for change in the current event permit for the annual Discount Tire Rally on the Rocks UTV/side-by-side event.

A publicly elected official’s career must be spent carefully weighing virtually every issue from the perspective of a middle point of their constituents’ views. It is the civic duty, especially in the exposed venue of a small town, of a conscientious mayor to emphasize the shared values and standards of their community and to downplay or defuse the polarizing issues that disturb the body of the community. Moab’s current crisis of success calls for something extraordinary.

This is a job for a social Superperson and I believe we have been very fortunate for so many years to have such a Supercitizen in the day-to-day guise of “friendly Dave.” Now in the “lame duck” phase of his long career, the mayor is once again demonstrating why he has been so good at his many roles in city and county government. As the cliché indicates, this is generally considered the lame part of political life, but some ducks go down quacking harder than others.

It’s a perfect moment to revisit the question of how events are organized, managed and permitted in the city and county. Cumulative event season impacts are indicative of an unhealthy imbalance. The people who promote, develop and maintain this and other events in the area do not naturally self regulate to the healthy interests and needs of the community. Their interest in the greater community good, or any consideration of negative impacts from their event in combination with others, is necessarily limited.

The issue of permitting the Rally on the Rocks event sounds like other community get-togethers. Money howls “discrimination,” “lawsuit” and “economic benefits.” Citizens cry for protection from the onslaught. Success is a burden that threatens to destroy the very thing it ought to protect: A good place to live.

When the uranium boom busted, tourism promotion boomed. The volume of TRT money that is spent, by legal requirement of the state Legislature, is now so great that television advertisements for southern Utah tourism are ubiquitous on national networks. They are seen all over the world. There is zero chance of a tourism industry collapse here based on a lack of global awareness of southern Utah.

The problem now is how to manage success and defend quality of life in this valley. State government needs to collaborate as Grand County figures out its own comfort zone of growth. Those who profit from growth in terms of simple increases in numbers of visitors, events, property prices, etc., decry any restriction. When the golden goose is long dead these same persons will wonder why no one told them not to kill that goose. Or perhaps, their personal nest is so nicely feathered that they will say the death of the goose was for the good of all, all for the best.

Take a page from Mayor Dave. Quack if you love geese. Even if it does feel a little lame.

Chaz Howard is a longtime Moab resident.

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