Tag Archives: transportation

Envision Utah Subjugating Utah County

People aren’t meant to live in figurative cages, even if those cages are gilded for fleeting times in scarce places. People fare best when they’re both virtuous and free, as freedom allows them to achieve their greatest potential for good.

And this is true not only of individuals but also of entire economies. Whenever markets are kept free, they allow innovation toward greater efficiency and effectiveness, yielding both prosperity and abundance, as rising standards-of-living bless everyone. This is one reason why these United States thrived from 13 colonies to become one of our worlds greatest civilizations.

But nobody’s perfekt. And, sadly, some people seize on the imperfections of free societies, whether real or imagined, as false excuses to enslave their neighbors, allegedly for their own good, which always does less good (if any) than harm.

And such people include Envision Utah.

Envision Utah believes that free-market-driven growth is too “chaotic” and “accidental” (as reported in the Provo Daily Herald) and, as such, it seeks to reorient Utahns away from property rights, free markets, and localized control toward regional governance, central economic planning, and “sustainable development” (as promoted by globalistic socialists). And, sadly, it’s enjoyed a long series of successes across Utah for decades by selling its plans to locals as ways that they can foster their values, which Envision Utah ascertains through careful research.

Envision Utah is currently focusing its attention upon Utah County (including Provo), using the excuse of countywide growth to develop a countywide plan that would force our county’s current relatively-free market to conform to a strict political vision. As part of its current visioning process, Envision Utah has been actively researching Utah County residents’ values and/or ideas through various means that include both workshops and surveys. Its recent Valley Visioning Survey allows respondents to decide communally where everyone will be allowed to live, what sort of homes everyone will have, how those homes will be landscaped, et cetera.

Such plans will almost certainly necessitate a larger costlier Utah County commission that will usurp our equal God-given (or natural) rights more than defend them. Like all misuses of political/coercive power, this can be expected to yield mixed or ineffective or even counterproductive results, meaning that it wont ultimately foster the values that its proponents are promising. Economic plans are always best when they’re made NOT by a few politicians but by zillions of free people in a free society.

Envision Utah is far from alone in trying to subjugate free Utahns to its statist vision. Provo already implemented a visioning process in 2010-2011 to create Vision 2030 to guide it in further centralizing its control over municipal development, demographics, transportation, businesses, homes, landscaping, diet, exercise, et cetera. Neighboring Orem is currently conducting its own similar visioning process, instigated by a city council that (in 2015 by majority vote) rejected Orems “curious mix of laissez-faire capitalism, pioneer frugality, and conservative / limited government expectations” in favor of a new statist approach to city planning.

So, these are all great developments for Utahns who welcome Soviet-style commissars to reign over them, or who aspire to play demigod-king with their neighbors’ lives and/or property. But they’re terrible developments for the rest of us who still value our rightful liberty under Constitutional law. Or who love the fruits of a virtuous free society, such as peace, prosperity, progress, civilization, and happiness.

So, what can we do now?

Our political system will never respect our rights fully until enough of our fellowcitizens are doing likewise. “Power concedes nothing without a demand,” so we need to increase the demand for freedom. We need to persistently awaken our slumbering neighbors to the figurative fetters that are being forged around them. We need to cure their apathy by reviving the spirit of liberty within their hearts-and-minds. We need to alleviate their ignorance by both educating and informing them clearly about the principles of rightful liberty under Constitutional law.

Along with engaging our neighbors’ hearts-and-minds, we also need to both mobilize and organize those who share our views for lasting political victory, building our ranks until we become at least as numerous and/or effective as our political adversaries, and then maintaining our advantage long-term. We also need to start with those closest to us and work outward—this conflict is both timeless and universal, and similar statist visioning processes are occurring both across our nation and around our world.

This struggle for freedom requires more than summer soldiers or sunshine patriots. It requires passion and wisdom and long-term commitment. It may not require leaving bloody footprints on the snows of Valley Forge, but it might require a few sore feet “pounding the pavement” in your neighborhood. And, since yesterday is gone, there’s no time like today to start.

If our website helps, then please feel free to use it. If you’ve got something that will help the rest of us, then please feel free to share it. We’re all in this mess together. And may heaven help us, because we sorely need it. So, if you’re religious, then please get down on your knees and pray—and, in any case, please get up and go do something effective to restore freedom while it’s still possible.


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Our Politically-Managed Airport

It’s wonderful that we enjoy a nice regional airport here in Utah County, and that it’s apparently prospering well enough to merit some expansion, which will increase its capacity to benefit its growing number of customers, and will produce positive “ripple effects” upon everyone who lives in our county.

But why is this growing local transportation hub being run by politicians rather than by entrepreneurs?  And why are its managers lobbying legislators to compel us (and others) to fund its expansion, rather than raising such capital from profits or savings or loans or investments or whatnot?  The state exists to exercise its coercive powers to help us to expertly defend ourselves from others’ aggression, NOT to figuratively pick our pockets to fund its growing array of business ventures, which are beyond its scope, and which distract it from its proper role.

Such business is best left to the private sector, where it normally operates efficiently and effectively and innovatively, while any exceptions are generally both rare and fleeting.  These norms-and-exceptions are reversed in the public sector, in which politically-managed businesses often exercise state power to defend their poor performance from unwanted competition.  Although our local airport may (or may not) be faring alright for the moment, it would fare far better if our city officers were to fully privatize it without any lingering political “strings” attached.  We need to set this airport free!

Sadly, Provo’s current public officers don’t appear to share such views, and haven’t done so for a long time.  Which is why Provo’s expanding municipal government now runs a redevelopment agency, a power company, an airport, a television channel, a library, a performing arts center, a recreation center, a fitness center, a golf course, an ice rink, a water park, a beach, a park service, a gun range, a garbage-collection service, a recycling service, and a cemetery, none of which are involved in defending our rights.  And it’s also why we who value our rightful liberty need to get educated, informed, and active in our local elections or else these ongoing statist trends may slowly ruin Provo just as they’ve ruined Detroit and other cities (or even entire nations).

As Utah’s weather improves, we urge you to please go kindly confront your neighbors, engage them in discussion about these issues, and organize like-minded ones for regular victory in our city elections.  And, if our website helps for that purpose, then please use it.  If you succeed, then we can regain a lean city government that effectively defends our rights, while allowing us the freedom to keep Provo such a great place to live, hopefully for many generations to come.  And wouldn’t that be worth the bother?


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Provo’s Big BRT Boondoggle

Perhaps a better headline for this blog entry would be… “Provo Sells Its Residents Deeper into Financial Bondage in Order to Squander Millions of Their Hard-Earned Dollars on a Tax-Wasting Traffic-Congesting Slightly-Faster Bus Service That Barely Anyone Demanded.”

The Utah Transit Authority’s (UTA’s) new Utah Valley Express (UVX) bus line will finally begin operating on August 13th (Monday), nearly two decades after Utahn politicians first conceived it.  This bus service is a form of Bus Rapid Transit (BRT), which uses special buses (and bus stops) to convey riders at a somewhat-more-rapid pace than a standard bus could; it will transport its passengers back-and-forth along major Provo-Orem thoroughfares (both through Provo’s downtown and alongside Orem’s University Mall) between southwest Orem’s FrontRunner station (near Utah Valley University) and south Provo’s East Bay area (near Provo’s South Towne Centre mall).

This massive public-works project was joint-venture between federal and state and local politicians, who cooperated to compel hundreds-of-millions of U. S. taxpayers from Key West to Prudhoe Bay (although especially here in Utah) to spend over $200,000,000 altogether to reconstruct our local city streets to accommodate this new bus service, while leaving every Provo/Orem household burdened with repaying nearly $1,200 (plus interest) of added municipal debt.  That’s a tremendous of money to pay, which might be alright if it were being used to construct a highly-demanded service that would greatly improve our local (or even national) quality-of-life.

So, what did we get in return for that massive financial investment, along with enduring all of the hassles of road-reconstruction over this last year?  Well, it seems that (during its peak hours of operation) Provo residents can now wait up to 10 minutes (at most) to catch a fancy new bus that will transport them to their destination up to 10 minutes (at most) faster than driving.  Yes, that’s what we got, which is arguably not much (if any) of an advantage!  Moreover, this dubious advantage is only true as long as both one’s origin and one’s destination lie along the same select 10-mile-long strip of Provo-Orem city streets—which, for the vast majority of us, is a relatively rare occurrence.

The rarity of having both one’s origin and one’s destination confined to a single 10-mile-long path, plus the very-marginal improvements in transit-time that Bus Rapid Transit provides over standard bus service, together help to explain why the greatest demand for this BRT service has never come from UTA riders but from Utahn politicians.  In fact, Provo’s city councilors have previously admitted that there is insufficient public demand to justify the UTA providing BRT service to Provo/Orem at this time—but, despite this fact, they chose to support the development of BRT anyway, while assuring us that public demand for BRT would increase as Utah County continues to grow rapidly.  Although this claim may be true, it’s also arguably exaggerated, because nearly all Utah County growth is (so far) bypassing the Provo/Orem area to enlarge other nearby cities, especially those cities situated across Utah Lake that are not located anywhere near the UVX route—so, if we Provoans need to wait for ongoing local population growth to justify the existence of BRT, then we might need to wait for a very very VERY long time.

As an aside, it may be worth noting that demand for BRT is currently insufficient despite the fact that UTA fares are already heavily subsidized—in fact, according to a state audit in 2008, for every $1 that UTA riders paid in bus fare, Utah taxpayers were charged $4 to cover the rest, whether they liked it or not.  Such forcible taking is not only sinful but criminal, as a matter of principle, whereas freely giving is a wonderful thing that’s good to freely encourage.  In any case, considering the fact that standard UTA bus service has already been a severe money-pit for Utahns for years, it’s arguably reasonable to suspect that the UTA’s newly-built completely-subsidized insufficiently-demanded BRT service may prove to be an even bigger boondoggle for our city than its shoddy money-losing iProvo network was a decade ago.  Such business ventures are arguably better deferred to actual entrepreneurs than to politicians who like to play entrepreneur.

If local demand for BRT is to grow significantly at all, then it will result less likely from any ongoing population growth than from Provo’s city council gradually achieving its “Vision 2030” and/or “Vision 2050” goals for our city.  These documents are more than mere vision statements, but they have been actively guiding our city councilors in centrally-planning our city’s future, and they include various socialistic goals for Provo such as “sustainable development,” along with the closely-related concept of “Smart Growth” (or “New Urbanism”).  Smart Growth involves allegedly saving our natural environment from urban sprawl by exercising political power to forcibly redirect a city’s economic development from its outskirts to its downtown, which then develops into a high-density urbanesque walkable core served by public transit.  And this is precisely what both of these documents clearly envision for Provo’s future.

So, if Provo’s central planners continue to implement their collectivistic vision for our city, then we’ll likely see artificially-fewer suburban homes in west Provo and artificially-more urbanesque high-rises in downtown Provo.  However, this probably isn’t exactly what will happen, because most people relocating to the Provo area who are faced with the disappointment of forgoing a Provo home for a Provo apartment will probably just bypass Provo altogether to go live in a nearby city like Vineyard—which is exactly what they have already been doing.  Even so, Provo’s downtown population is still definitely growing, and its rising faction of quasi-urbanites will soon be able to enjoy a free cushy bus ride to either a mall or a FrontRunner station entirely at taxpayer expense.

Yes, I wrote entirely at taxpayer expense.  Rides along the UVX route will not merely be subsidized by Utah taxpayers like rides on other UTA routes (as previously mentioned), but they will apparently be billed entirely to U. S. taxpayers for at least 3 years through a U. S. Department of Transportation grant.  So, whenever riders step on those buses, they won’t pay a cent at their time-of-service, but they (along with hundreds-of-millions of other citizens from Honolulu to Bangor) will be billed for that bus ride in the form of federal taxes at some point, whether they like it or not.  Which, again, is wrong—our political system should help us to defend our rights from others’ aggression, not compel us to pay each other’s bills.

It’s bad enough that we Provoans are being forced to both construct and maintain an insanely-expensive taxpayer-money-guzzling underdemanded bus service that hardly anyone wanted and the vast majority of us will rarely (if ever) use… but it’s even worse that this bus service seems well-designed to impede the flow of “normal” traffic around our city.  Until now, this same UVX bus route was served by normal UTA buses that were simply one vehicle among many on our city streets, both using the same traffic lanes and obeying the same traffic signals as all other vehicles around them—but, now, these BRT buses will have their own special center lanes all to themselves, which are seemingly narrowing all other lanes around them while entirely eliminating at least some of the helpful left-turn lanes that Provoan drivers have been using.  This may contribute to widespread traffic congestion while rendering it significantly harder for many of us to speedily get from one point to another—so, basically, hundreds of private car-drivers will arrive at their destinations slower, in order for dozens of public bus-riders will get to their destinations just a tiny bit faster, which doesn’t sound like a very worthwhile trade to me.  Perhaps we should have expected this, though, because this is exactly what our city council envisioned in both Vision 2030 and Vision 2050—deliberately slowing the flow of private traffic while deliberately giving preference to public transportation.  So, we can’t say that we weren’t warned—and in writing, to boot!

Just as our city councilors warned us about what they were planning, this blog entry should perhaps also warn us that, unless we start to choose our city’s public officers more wisely, then they’re going to keep doing more of the same.  BRT is just one step among many their plans, and they’ve already informed us well about what other steps they’re planning to take.  In fact, their vision statements have been surprisingly clear about the sort of socialistic dystopia that they seek for us—one in which they centrally-manage our city’s economy (and its development), regulate its Internet, redistribute its demographics, and even oversee our health and diet and exercise and recreation and such, all with relatively little respect for our rightful liberty.  Perhaps they’ve been so surprisingly forthright about such plans because relatively few Provoans seem to notice (much less object) to what they’re doing enough to pose a serious threat to their goals.  Please prove them wrong!

Perhaps the “bottom line” of this Free Provo blog entry is that, if you value preserving and/or restoring the relatively virtuous free society that helped Provo to develop over time into one of America’s best cities, then please get involved NOW to build support among your neighbors to elect better city officers next year.  And, if you discover that our website helps you at all with that task, then please feel free to use it accordingly.  Happy doorknocking!


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Opposing a Statist Vision for Provo

We Provoans who value our rightful liberty would do well (for reasons detailed below) to lobby our city councilors from March 6th to March 27th (as they’ve voted to allow) about a revised General Plan for our city that they’ve been drafting since last year.

This revised central plan will merge our present General Plan’s Chapter One together with two city documents full of central-planning guidelines, namely Vision 2030 and Vision 2050.  Vision 2030 was instigated in 2010 by newly-elected mayor John Curtis, in cooperation with his like-minded city councilors, who together appointed a system of committees that gradually developed it through 18 months of careful deliberation, while both inviting and considering (but not necessarily heeding) public input, before finalizing it all on paper in 2011.  After using Vision 2030 to guide their central planning for five years, and then noting (in John Curtis’ words) that “so much of 2030 has already been accomplished,” our city officers sought additional public input about their plans in 2016, which they considered as they composed a similar plan called Vision 2050.  Along the way, Provo’s city councilors made it perfectly clear that their intent has been to gradually transform these abstract vision statements over decades into concrete city code.  So, if we want to know what these city officers envision for our future city ordinances (which have been proliferating greatly in recent years), then we should scrutinize this pair of vision statements.

Although these documents together present many fine aspirations for Provo’s future, most such goals/objectives are best accomplished through both loving persuasion and voluntary cooperation, rather than through the heavy hand of political edicts.  In fact, our political system should ideally focus on its core (and only proper) mission of helping us all to effectively defend our rights against others’ aggression, while leaving all other concerns to free people in a free society—and our politicians should NOT seek to compel us to live up to anything-and-everything that suits their fancy.  What follows next is a brief overview of some of the worst city ordinances envisioned by these documents, accompanied by some of our commentary.

  • Censoring Internet communications (perhaps) in violation of our rights to speak freely (see V2030 5.2.3).

Vision 2030 expresses concern about “the risks associated with free and open access to the Internet,” along with a legislative goal to “provide safe and secure Internet access.”  It’s unclear if this phrase refers to wanton electronic censorship or to something more innocuous (as some have suggested) like restricting children’s access to pornography at Provo’s public library; but, in any case, we urge caution.  While Vision 2030 was being composed, Provo owned a shoddy overpriced money-losing fiberoptic network called iProvo, which our city council had built from 2004 to 2006 using a massive $39.5-million-dollar loan (which Provo taxpayers are still repaying), but later sold in 2013 to Google Fiber for only $1 (while paying hundreds-of-thousands of dollars in related expenses); this transfer-of-ownership perhaps explains why this entire section about censorship was excluded from Vision 2050.

  • Reconstructing Provo’s infrastructure to impede private traffic in favor of public transit (see V2030 12.1, 12.2; V2050 9.1, 9.2).

Vision 2050 calls for neither eliminating nor minimizing traffic congestion, but “managing” it in such a way that it discourages people from driving.  This may (or may not) imply joining a recent nationwide trend of so-called “road diets” that are now severely obstructing traffic in various major U. S. cities for the purpose of “encouraging” drivers to give up their automobiles for politically-favored alternatives.  Provo’s city officers may be fulfilling these goals right now (at least in part) through their insanely-expensive road-reconstruction project to establish Bus Rapid Transit (BRT), which they have admitted isn’t justified by current consumer demand.  We should note, by the way, that even this current relatively-low demand is highly inflated due to heavy taxpayer subsidies, without which all UTA fares would be at least several times more expensive.

  • Dictating which buildings will get built where, while regulating the details of both their form and their function, all in accordance with the principles of “sustainable development” and/or “smart growth,” but in violation of property rights (see V2030 1.5.2, 1.6.2, 2.1.1, 2.2, 2.4; V2050 1.3.5, 1.5.4, 1.6.2, 2.1.3, 2.2, 2.3.6, 2.5, 2.7.3, 2.8.1, 4.6.1, 6.6, 6.7, 6.9, 9).

Although zoning is common, some cities like Houston have thrived without it, as it curtails development, reduces competition, promotes false “order” and/or aesthetics over genuine needs, reduces housing supply while raising housing costs, excludes “undesirables,” and wastes people’s valuable time with needless paperwork.  While traditional zoning controls only the function of buildings, newer zoning trends control their form, as well, and this seems to be referenced in Vision 2050—in fact, Provo’s city councilors in 2016 discussed the idea of mandatory landscaping for all residential homes, which they would regulate through city code.  Some consider such form-based code to be vital in implementing “smart growth,” which forcibly redirects development away from a city’s outskirts toward its center, thereby concentrating municipal residents into high-density walkable urbanesque cores served by public mass-transit, which is exactly what these documents envision for Provo.  “Smart growth” is a closely-related concept to “sustainable development,” which has become associated with “watermelon” environmentalists who advance communistic principles under the guise of protecting nature.  Communists have long favored such “delandization” policies in nations that they’ve sough to subvert.

  • Redistributing demographics, including by expelling renters from Provo to other parts of Utah County, in violation of our property and/or contractual rights (see V2030 1.5, 2.1, 2.3, 5.3; V2050 1.5, 2.1, 2.3).

Provo’s city officers have expressed displeasure with Provo’s current owner-renter balance, along with a desire to exercise political power to artificially restrict rental housing (which would inflate rental costs for students while unjustly enriching landlords), subsidize homeownership, discourage relocation, and even encourage each neighborhood’s residents to have diversity in their ages.  It’s unclear exactly how our city officers might enforce age diversity—perhaps each block would be assigned a mandatory elderly couple?  In any case, our public officers shouldn’t decree who lives where—such decisions should be made contractually within a free market.

  • Expanding Provo’s current array of city-run business ventures, regulating what it doesn’t run, and subsidizing politically-favored relocations and/or expansions and/or startups, all in violation of our property and/or contractual rights (see V2030 3.1, 3.3, 3.6, 3.7, 3.8, 4.7, 5.4.2, 7.3.2, 9.1.2, 9.3.2; V2050 3.1, 3.3, 3.6, 3.7, 4.7, 4.8, 5.3.2, 6.2.4, 6.3.2, 6.4, 6.8).

Provo’s city officers seem to want to control (or at least manipulate) our municipal economy as much as we’ll let them.  Their current roster of city-run businesses (which should all be fully privatized) includes a redevelopment agency, a monopolistic power company, an airport, a television channel, a library, a money-losing performing-arts center, a rather-profitable (for now) new recreation center, a fitness center, a golf course, an ice rink, a water park, a city park service, a gun range, a garbage-collection service, a recycling service, and a cemetery, with plans to possibly add a museum and/or beach.  Such additions might be funded through Provo’s new RAP (recreation, arts, and parks) tax, through which our city officers may entertain us as much as they please while sending the bill to taxpayers.  But it’s not right for our politicians to be running and/or regulating our businesses, which distracts them from their proper role of helping us to defend our rights.

  • Socializing Provo’s health-care system, while ensuring that Provoans maintain proper diet and exercise (see V2030 6.1, 6.2).

Vision 2030 expresses a desire to guarantee every Provoan “access” to health care, which appears to be a city-level version of “Obamacare.”  Which may explain why, after our nation’s Congress passed the unconstitutional Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010, this section was excluded from Vision 2050.  What also disappeared were goals about ensuring that all Provoans live healthier lives.  As for how Provo’s city councilors considered enforcing such health laws, we can only speculate—perhaps it would involve regular home visits from “health enforcement agents” to ensure that we’re all talking enough walks and eating enough vegetables?  Creepy…

  • Recruiting residents to help implement this statist agenda (see V2030 5.3.5, 10.1.3, 10.2, 14.3.4; V2050 7.1.3, 7.2, 11.3.4).

Provo’s city officers also want to educate Provoan children to engage in “sustainable development,” and to understand the “roles of government,” which they seemingly believe is to reign over the rest of us—and to harness some Provoans as volunteers to help them to render their statist vision a reality.  Rather than trying to finagle us into serving their interests, they should be helping us to remain free to pursue our own interests within the limits of our equal God-given rights.

Please lobby your city councilors against such such goals, and please encourage fellow liberty-lovin’ Provoans to do likewise!  Since these goals/objectives were generally their idea, they might resist relinquishing them, or they might eliminate them only on paper while pressing ahead with them in practice—but your efforts may still either slow or pause their statist plans enough to have an impact while we’re in the process of helping our neighbors to choose better successors.  And we hope that you’re already actively proselytizing your neighbors, as well, especially as our local weather is growing milder.  As a reminder, you’re more than welcome to peruse our Free Provo website for both ideas and resources.


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