I am very grateful for the pioneers who settled Utah. This state is an amazing place and I am proud to live here.
I just walked out of a meeting focused on the hot topic of the BRT. I was invited to the meeting under the guise that this would be an open dialogue and people would have a chance to share their opinions. What it turned out to be was an ugly scene of yelling and name calling. Something I wouldn’t expect from adults. Apparently BRT really gets people’s blood boiling!
So where do I stand on it? Knowing what I know right now about BRT and if I were voting on whether or not to go forward with the project I would have to vote NO for one reason, the price tag.
Having lived in both Seattle (horrible public transportation) and Chicago (excellent public transportation) I can see both sides of the issue. Public transportation (when done right) can be very beneficial to the community. It can alleviate traffic, improve air quality, and free up parking spots for those who need them most. Unfortunately this is not one of those times where it is done right. If I were on city council and there was a large demand for buses to transport college students between Provo and Orem I know one thing for sure, I could do it for a LOT LESS than $65 million!
While working on my degree in mechanical engineering, a professor showed us a picture similar to the one you see above. In the picture the group concerned with weight constructs the plane out of paper and balsa wood. Their design is extremely light but would be destroyed by the first gust of wind. On the other hand the stress group has constructed a plane of steel I-beams, which certainly meets the strength requirements but this plane will never get off the ground.
Of course this picture is meant to be comical but it illustrates an important part of engineering. Engineering is taking many objectives and combining them together to arrive at an optimal solution. Focusing too much on any one aspect leads to a poor decision.
Likewise, if we become focused on any one aspect of a city and forget to consider the others we can do more harm than good. For example, spending less is typically a good thing but if taken to extreme it could end up hurting the city. Roads would fall into disrepair, and there would not be enough police officers or fire fighters to adequately protect our city. But the opposite is also true, spending too much can be just as destructive.
According to the Daily Herald, Orem has diverted $44 million to University Mall. Not only is this showing unfair favoritism towards one company, but is extremely out of balance. Considering the debt we already owe for UTOPIA Orem does not have $44 million to bet on a risky investment. This is a perfect example of focusing only on one aspect of our city. We could brag and say that we are attracting businesses and creating jobs but in reality we are building a plane that will never fly.
Next week on July 13, 2017 there will be an event at the SCERA Theater in Orem where everyone can come and meet the 3 candidates running for Mayor and the 12 candidates running for City Council.
The event will start at 7:00 pm and go until 9:00 pm. It will start with the candidates each taking a few minutes to introduce themselves. After introductions each candidate will have a booth where you can grill them on their plans for Orem.
Some topics that you might ask about are:
- Attracting businesses to Orem
- Zoning in Orem
- Having a full-time Mayor
- Most importantly, how the candidates can best serve you!
So come prepared with comments and tough questions! We would love to see you there!
I recently read a book called “Work Rules!” by Laszlo Bock about how Google is run. One of the concepts in this book is not forcing anyone to change how they live but instead just giving them nudges. The example in the book was how they stocked their kitchens. In an effort to help employees eat healthier food the person who stocked the kitchen began putting healthy items such as fruit at counter level while stocking less healthier treats up high or down low. It did not cost them any extra to make this change and employees still had the same choices as before but they observed that more healthy food was being selected by employees.
I live in Orem but worked in Lehi for a couple years. It was about a 20 mile drive and I could be to work in about 25 minutes (I-15 traffic permitting). It made sense to drive since front runner cost about $6.00 a day but gas only cost me about $4.00 a day. After working there for a few weeks the company announced that they would be providing all employees with a UTA pass. I still had the option to drive but now the option to ride the train became much more appealing. It took longer to get to work but now my time was spent reading instead of honking my horn and shaking my fist while stuck in traffic on I-15. The company did not force me to use public transportation but instead gave a gentle nudge and I’m grateful for it.
When it comes to challenges facing Orem there is no magic solution, no silver bullet. We need lots of small changes to help shape the future of this city. There are many small nudges that we can give to help Orem grow and not lose its neighborhood feel. Just like my employer nudged me use public transportation we can nudge companies to help the transportation situation. Through recognition or small tax incentives we can increase the number of people using public transportation.
I realize that public transportation does not work for everyone. Landscapers or plumbers could not transport their tools and supplies on a bus or train but there are many employees that could consider alternate transportation means. Even if the number of cars on the road were decreased by 5% that would be a significant change that would benefit everyone.
Orem doesn’t need to force people’s decisions, but small changes can help nudge us in the right direction.