Candidate profile: Kalen Jones

Kalen Jones is an incumbent to the Moab City Council, running for re-election in 2019. He was first elected to the seat in 2015.

Here is how Jones responded to our three questions:

What are your thoughts on the version of PAD that the city passed last month? What would you like to improve, change or remove?

“PAD effectively created a path for residential development in R-3 and R-4 that allows home ownership, at about the same density as apartments are permitted in those zones without using PAD.

“Most of these owned units will be primary residences for moderate-income Moabites. This is a win for affordable housing in Moab.

“I think R-2, as the largest residential zone in Moab, plays a critical role in our housing supply. PAD as written lacked the standards needed to balance some R-2 owners’ concerns about neighborhood character with the well documented need for more primary residential housing at all income levels.

“This winter, the city lacked the planning staff to develop those standards, and I think excluding R-2 from PAD, at that time, was appropriate. Some of the standards in PAD will require interpretation by developers and city planning staff.

“I expect permitting a few projects will clarify desired changes, and the city’s planning department will be available to guide the conversation regarding if and how PAD can be optimized for R-2.

“Going forward, I will consider multiple tools to preserve and enhance the physical form and social fabric of Moab’s residential neighborhoods, including improvements to PAD, revision of ADU standards, and market-rate tools to keep existing homes occupied by full-time residents.”

What are your thoughts on the proposal for council members to get back health coverage that they lost starting in 2014? Would you like to see city council members’ pay and benefits increased, decreased or stay the same?

“Council members are expected to understand and provide leadership on a range of issues in the community at large, as well as internal to the city organization. These include land use and transportation planning, housing, budgeting, taxation, public safety, community and economic development, waste management and more.

“The highest level legal and personnel issues facing the city often require council decisions. Every year, the state legislature considers at least one bill which would significantly harm Moab, and which requires vigorous lobbying by the council to defeat.

“Moab is fortunate to have a politically interested and vocal population, and engaging with them via meetings, phone and digital channels takes time. Moab is facing rapid changes and has limited resources to manage the resulting pressures.

“A hard-working council is critical to steer Moab’s future in a way that serves the residents and local businesses. Restoring reasonable council compensation to a level roughly comparable to pre-2014 is long overdue.”

What are your thoughts on removing lodging as a protected use in the City of Moab? Should the rules be less restrictive, or should new hotels and overnight rentals be disallowed completely as proposed?

“Tourism generally, and lodging in particular, is the dominant economic sector in Moab. Infrastructure, housing and other businesses are lagging behind the growth in lodging, and the public lands are groaning under the visitation.

“It is time to reorient our economic development in positive ways. I believe part of that is redefining how lodging’s profitability can facilitate other desired businesses as part of mixed-use developments.

“Defining and adopting standards to achieve that will take time, more than is available before the current lodging moratorium expires. In the short term, I think new lodging should be restricted as much as possible, but in consideration of managing the legal and political risk of an outright ban.

“As part of the short-term code changes, I think existing overnight rental developments should be accommodated more gracefully than as legal non-conforming uses.

“I hope that the developers and owners of such properties will understand the pressures facing Moab and stand with the local governments in defending our ability to conduct planning responsive to the unique challenges faced by Moab.”