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Cottonwood Heights Journal

How decisions from the 2021 legislative session could impact Cottonwood Heights

Apr 26, 2021 11:26AM ● By Cassie Goff

Lobbyist Chantel Nate consistency tracks multiple bills for the Cottonwood Heights City Council to provide regular updates. (Photo courtesy of Capitol Hill Advisors)

By Cassie Goff | [email protected]

Utah’s 2021 Legislative General Session concluded on March 5. While COVID-19 precautions made conducting business a little less traditional this year, the legislature seemed unphased as over 940 bills were heard and 502 bills were passed. 

Throughout the hectic three months, Cottonwood Heights City lobbyists Brian Allen, Chantel Nate and Greg Curtis reported to the Cottonwood Heights City Council on recent and concerning updates. They closely tracked bills related to transportation and open space funding, infrastructure funding, short-term rentals and accessory dwelling units (ADUs), billboard regulations, and law enforcement. On April 6, they provided a final report. 

“This session has been a wild ride for cities,” reported Allen. “We can probably expect to see some variation of any bill that didn’t pass next year. They never say die.” 

Curtis spent most of the session tracking the tentative budget and evaluating proposed changes to how the state legislature allocates spending. This year, elected officials discussed how to provide more grants for natural resources and more resources for outdoor recreation at length. 

“Five million dollars is earmarked from the Office of Outdoor Recreation towards the Bonneville Shoreline Trail, which does require local matches as part of that grant,” Curtis said. 

“Trails are seeing a lot of use, especially with COVID-19,” said Cottonwood Heights City Manager Tim Tingey on Feb. 28. “We need to use that as justification for the $5 million asked for the Bonneville Shoreline Trail.” 

H.B. 433 – Amendments Related to Infrastructure Funding sponsored by Rep. Mike Schultz and Sen. Kirk Cullimore directs money specifically to the Cottonwood Canyon Transportation Fund for the local canyons. 

H.B. 433 also sets aside over $300 million for FrontRunner through multiple line items such as $12 million for construction and improvements and $200 million for double-tracking the rail system. 

Every year, the state legislature passes a handful of bills requiring local cities to comply within a certain timeframe. This year, H.B. 82 – Single-family Housing Amendments sponsored by Rep. Raymond Ward and Sen. Jacob Anderegg set specific criteria for ADUs. Local cities have until October to update their ordinances.   

“We spent a lot of time negotiating the ADU bill,” Allen said. “There was a lot of pressure from leadership to pass that bill. We got it to a good place without killing it.”

On Feb. 18, Allen reported that if H.B. 82 had not been negotiated, there was a bill circling that would have stripped all power away from cities related to ADUs. 

Now, cities have to allow ADUs in 75% of all residential zones. One of the biggest concerns related to ADUs within Cottonwood Heights relates to residential parking. Allen and others worked to ensure the bill would not restrict additional parking requirements for properties with ADUs, as cities will have the ability to require an extra parking spot on premise. 

Additional bills which would have required city implementation related to regulating billboards, including S.B. 144 – Billboard Restrictions Amendments sponsored by Sen. David Hinkins, S.B. 61 – Outdoor Advertising Amendments sponsored by Sen. Scott Sandall and Rep. Paul Ray, and S.B. 120 – Outdoor Advertising Revisions sponsored by Sen. Derek Kitchen. 

“We were able to stall out the two billboard bills but those issues are going to come back,” Allen said. “We will work with the League (of Cities and Towns) and billboard companies to come up with a reasonable negotiation.” 

The Love, Listen, Lead coalition pushed a handful of bills related to law enforcement. “There was a good balance between community needs and law enforcement needs in the bills that were passed,” Allen said. “I am hopeful it will have the desired effect.” 

Additional bills the city council and lobbyists discussed thoroughly throughout January and February were: 

H.B. 98 – Local Government Building Regulations sponsored by Rep. Paul Ray and Sen. Scott Sandall was passed but vetoed by Gov. Spencer Cox on March 24. “He did say he would like to bring it back for a special session after working with sponsors and stakeholders. He did not veto because he was standing up for cities rights, city autonomy, or local control,” Allen said. 

H.B. 127 – Ranked-choice Voting Amendments sponsored by Rep. Mike Winder and Sen. Curtis Bramble did not pass. However, H.B. 75 – Municipal Alternative Voting Methods Pilot sponsored by Rep. Jeffrey Stenquist and Sen. Curtis Bramble did pass and was signed on March 16. It gives local municipalities a voluntary alternative method for voting. 

S.B. 204 – Permitting Amendments sponsored by Sen. Kirk Cullimore and Rep. Robert Spendlove would have “created a lot of administrative hoops and added bureaucracy to a system that didn’t need it,” Allen said. It did not pass. 

S.B. 164 – Utah Housing Affordability Amendments sponsored by Sen. Jacob Anderegg and Rep. Steve Waldrip did pass and was signed on March 17. 

S.B. 221 – Short-Term Rental Amendments sponsored by Sen. Jacob Anderegg did not pass. 

H.B. 244 – First Class County Highway Road Funds sponsored by Rep. James Dunnigan and Sen. Wayne Harper passed and was signed on March 23. 

S.B. 113 – Transportation Amendments sponsored by Sen. Wayne Harper and Rep. Kay Christofferson passed and was signed on March 16. 

H.B. 224 – Pollinator Amendments sponsored by Rep. Ashlee Matthews and Sen. Evan Vickers passed and was signed on March 22. 

H.J.R. 13 – Joint Resolution Declaring Racism a Moral and Public Health Crisis sponsored by Rep. Sandra Hollins did not pass.