You can read more about this Q&A and how the other candidates responded in the related story.
M. Bryon Walston is a challenger in the upcoming Moab City Council elections. He was the fourth highest vote-getter in the primary election, with 560 votes. He served on the Grand County School Board for 16 years and, with his wife, currently owns and operates Moab Premier Properties and Angel Watch Storage. He also provides Hummer tours for the Moab Adventure Center.
Here is how Walston responded to our three questions:
T-I: The City of Moab, during its ongoing moratorium on new lodging developments, is on the clock to write and pass lodging standards. These standards will determine how future lodging developments look and operate.
There are many ideas regarding how these standards should be written. What are your top two priorities regarding how lodging is regulated in Moab, and how do you propose to implement them via policy?
Walston: I believe in the Constitution, and I am a property rights advocate.
When we make more regulations, we restrict our freedoms little by little. Free market economics will work if allowed to do so. We have national building standards to regulate building codes. Would it be fair to require a “few” extra costs in building, when the “many” already have their buildings done?
I believe in fairness to all parties. I believe that, in fairness to all, we do not need new standards. Any new extra regulation takes away a freedom or choice from us as citizens of this great county. We need to teach people correct principles and let them govern themselves.
We live in a diverse community. The present council does not represent all the people of Moab. They have caused a rift or wide division in the community. We need balance in the council. We may not agree on everything, so we need compromise and balance in consensus.
We do need balanced growth working with people not forcing them. We all have a stake in this. So, let’s work together.
T-I: Relative to the area’s median income, Grand County has the least affordable rent in the State of Utah. The typical household spends more than 30% of its income on rent. Property values have increased dramatically in recent years while incomes have fallen.
Some candidates have proposed voluntary deed restriction programs to address the problem. Most agree that higher density housing is what is most needed. Where in the city should higher density housing get built, and how would you handle or mitigate pushback from homeowners who do not want those developments in or near their neighborhood?
Walston: We all should love our neighborhood in which we live. There are a few empty properties that still could be used for higher density projects. I am against putting in high-density units in established neighborhoods.
We could facilitate an approval process for housing by eliminating some of the tedious zoning requirements that stall or hinder the progress of building.
I support allowing a second unit or small home on every zone in the city. We would need to adjust some zoning regulations in order to do so, taking away most of the “red tape” in order to get it done.
T-I: Housing and lodging are perhaps the most obvious challenges facing the city. What is one other, major challenge that the city faces, and how do you plan to address it?
Walston: Traffic and noise.
We need an outreach program with all the rental and outfitting companies to inform or train our visitors on the expectations we have for them.
Also, there is a lot of talk about making Main Street more pedestrian “friendly.” We need to get the truck traffic off Main Street. I support a bypass, which would cost a bundle, but in the long run would be worth it.