Utah Valley inks hoops coach Mark Pope to 6-year contract extension

OREM — With his wife Lee Anne sitting at his right hand, (and at the explicit direction of outgoing Utah Valley President Matt Holland, who sat on the left) Mark Pope signed a six-year contract extension Thursday with the Wolverines, committing long-term to a program he has helped build with a lengthy run of transfers and incoming recruits to one of the top teams in the Western Athletic Conference.

"It’s a great day for us. My wife is essentially running this entire program," Pope said with his traditional aura of candor, openness and humor. "It’s been one of my honors the last three years to be able to work with this group, to follow their lead and to see their example.

"This day is really special for me because my whole heart is here at Utah Valley University. Over the past three years, both Lee Anne and I have fallen in love with this university. We’re really proud of what we’ve accomplished over the last three years. This contract signifies what we believe — that we are barely scratching the surface of what can be accomplished here."

Details of Pope’s contract were not immediately available, but a source confirmed to KSL Sports the deal is through the 2023-24 college basketball season. ESPN’s Jeff Goodman first reported the coach’s extension.

"We think there are great things here, as a university, as an athletic department and as a basketball program," Pope said. "This is a huge commitment by the university, and equally as big by myself, because we all believe there is a lot that will happen here."

In three years of his first head coaching job, the former NBA power forward has amassed a 52-46 overall record, including a 22-20 record in Western Athletic Conference play and back-to-back postseason trips to the College Basketball Invitational.

BYU assistant coach Mark Pope tells a referee that they had called a timeout as the Cougars play San Francisco, Feb. 9, 2013. (Photo: Scott G Winterton, Deseret News)

He immediately upgraded the Wolverines’ schedule, too, setting up a back-to-back road trip with his alma mater Kentucky and college basketball power Duke in what he billed the "toughest 24 hours in college basketball history."

A graduate of Kentucky who passed on his final year of medical school to pursue coaching, Pope spent two seasons as an assistant coach at Georgia and Wake Forest before joining Dave Rose’s staff at BYU in 2011. After ascending to Rose’s top assistant, he moved the short drive north on University Parkway to succeed retiring basketball coach Dick Hunsaker at Utah Valley in March 2015.

His impact, vision and leadership made an immediate impact on the Wolverines — not just on the athletic department, but on the largest public university in the state, Holland said.

"We were lucky to get him on round one, and we’re even luckier to keep him in a way that he is thrilled about and we are all about," said Holland, who is stepping down this summer at UVU to become a mission president for the LDS Church in North Carolina.

"We don’t stop. Utah Valley University is on the move, getting bigger and better and stronger in everything we do. I can’t wait for this program to move forward with this coach for another six years."

Pope joked that Holland’s next role in life was to be “called by a higher power” to recruit North Carolina prep basketball players to UVU.

Whether the Wolverines open up a Charlotte-to-Orem pipeline is yet to be seen. But Pope appears to be planning to lead the basketball program through the middle of the third decade of the millennium.

"Athletics plays a crucial role on a university campus," Holland said. "It’s not our main purpose, but we can’t really be what we are supposed to be as a university without a terrific athletic program. I believe that to my core, and we’ve made this a real investment.

"Not only is this an affirming mark for the last couple of years, but it’s a tremendous signal of where we are moving forward."

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A century later, Chapman Library may not still be the ‘greatest’ thing to hit Salt Lake City’s west side, but it remains a neighborhood gem

Salt Lake City staged a ceremony Saturday to mark the 100th anniversary of the Chapman Branch library, which was called the greatest civic and cultural development the city’s west side had ever seen when it opened.

Hundreds of people christened the opening of the library in Poplar Grove in late May 1918, when the neighborhood was home to a growing immigrant and worker population.

The Carnegie Foundation donated today’s equivalent of nearly $500,000 as part of a massive effort to build thousands of libraries worldwide.

There were about a dozen in attendance on Saturday. Mayor Jackie Biskupski and her son were among them.

Biskupski said it was an honor to mark the historic anniversary of the branch, which she noted was named after a woman, Annie Chapman, the city’s first public librarian.

“This is a prime example of what it means to celebrate someone from 100 years ago who was a woman and was leading in this whole system of library service,” Biskupski said. “We should be proud of that and celebrate that.”

City Councilman Andrew Johnston, who represents much of the west side, recounted how he bought a home in the neighborhood nine years ago without knowing anything about the area. He said he worried he’d made a mistake when, the next day, he went out for a bike ride.

“I rode down Ninth West and I came across Chapman Library,” Johnston said. “For me that morning, Chapman was a wonderful, wonderful sight.

“It gave me comfort that there is an edifice and institution here that anchors this neighborhood,” he added. “Everyone is welcome to the city library.”

Johnston called on city residents to pitch in as Carnegie did, because it’s becoming difficult for the city to maintain its public institutions.

The library recently underwent about $250,000 in cosmetic upgrades. Several historic windows have been refinished. The basement, which hosts a children’s area and stage for screenings and other events, sports new carpeting. Yellow paint brightens up the room.

The two open reading rooms upstairs remained largely unchanged. The library system worked to retain the building’s historic nature, and, on Saturday, the mayor unveiled a new plaque noting the building’s spot on the National Register of Historic Places, where it’s been since 1980.

“While so many things have changed in those 100 years,” said Peter Bromberg, the city library system’s executive director, “the core value of the library to the neighborhood and to the community has remained amazingly constant.”

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Stalled South Salt Lake homeless shelter expected to move forward, mayor says

SOUTH SALT LAKE — Amid monthlong delays that have stalled the groundbreaking of the South Salt Lake homeless shelter — and a looming deadline that would cause the facility to fall into state hands — city officials say they’ve overcome issues and expect the project to move forward next week.

"I think everything’s on track," South Salt Lake Mayor Cherie Wood said Friday.

After a tense meeting earlier this month between city and state officials called to sort out technical problems delaying permitting for the 300-bed men’s shelter at 3380 S. 1000 West, Wood said she had a plan to get the delayed shelter back on track.

The needed planning materials were submitted on time, Wood said, which cleared the way for the South Salt Lake Planning Commission to have two work meetings this week ahead of two special public hearings planned for Tuesday and Thursday.

If all goes smoothly, the planning commission is expected to approve the site’s subdivision plat and conditional use permit at the end of those two public hearings, Wood said.

"I believe we are headed in the right direction within the time frame," she said.

Some council members worried if South Salt Lake didn’t solve the technical issues holding up the permitting — including uncertainty with the 1000 West right-of-way boundaries because old county records of the property had been lost — the city could lose any say in the project.

Due to a reverter clause in the site’s purchase agreement, ownership of the site could revert from Shelter the Homeless, the nonprofit building the shelter, to the state if it doesn’t break ground before June 30.

Councilman Mark Kindred, who had been initially skeptical South Salt Lake could sort out the problems in time, said he’s he’s now optimistic the city will meet the deadline.

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"It sounds like things have shaken loose," he said. "I’m crossing my fingers."

But meanwhile, state officials are moving on a "parallel track" to step in if it appears South Salt Lake leaders don’t approve the needed permits in time for groundbreaking, said Jonathan Hardy, director of Housing and Community Development in the state’s Department of Workforce Services.

Hardy, as he has indicated previously, said "the proof will be in the pudding."

"I’ll be pleasantly surprised if we can get it accomplished with South Salt Lake next week, but I think we have the means to meet our timeline either way," Hardy said.

The same state law that allocated $20 million in state funding for construction of the South Salt Lake shelter and two others in Salt Lake City also mandates the Road Home’s downtown homeless shelter shutter by June 30, 2019 — so officials have said all three shelters must be up and running by then, and delay is not an option.

In this week’s Shelter the Homeless board meeting, contractors said they hope to start the project by the first week of June. Though the South Salt Lake site’s official deadline is June 30, the state can step in "a little sooner" if need be, Hardy said.

South Salt Lake’s first public hearing Tuesday at 220 E. Morris Avenue will address the site’s subdivision plat application. Thursday’s hearing will address the facility’s conditional use permit application.

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Global trade experts urge Utah leaders to put politics aside for inland port, but talks remain stalled

SALT LAKE CITY — After negotiations stalled ahead of a planned special session to tweak the controversial inland port authority law, a panel of global trade experts called on Utah leaders to put politics aside for the sake of the state’s future.

Derek Miller, president and CEO of the World Trade Center Utah, said at a panel hosted by Envision Utah at the Grand America Hotel on Tuesday that state and city leaders "need to get refocused on the substance" of the inland port, which he called a "generational opportunity for this state."

"When we have the politics trump the substance, the message that that sends to the marketplace — spoiler alert — is not a good message," he said. "So I hope that we’re not going to let politics trump what is a very important project for the prosperity for the state."

Natalie Gochnour, director of the Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute at the University of Utah, joined Miller on the panel focused on the inland port and also called for unity, saying it’s "unfortunate whenever you have government entities that aren’t seeing eye to eye."

"I just want to throw out this notion that it’s in nobody’s interest to have a lawsuit," she said, referencing Salt Lake City leaders’ past statements that litigation may be an option if a compromise with the state can’t be reached.

"Everybody loses. Nobody wins with this. So my pitch would be let’s figure this out and get to a compromise."

But negotiations seemed to remain stalled Wednesday after city and state leaders in interviews with KSL blamed each other for being unwilling to budge.

"It isn’t ‘my way or the highway.’ It’s got to be something we work together on," Senate President Wayne Niederhauser, who attended Wednesday’s event, said in an interview after the panel discussion. "I think the city at times feels like they want to deal without state involvement, and that’s not going to happen."

Niederhauser said he hopes negotiations can continue and potentially revisit SB234 during the special session that is expected to be called this year to address other issues, but he added, "If people are digging their heels in the sand … then, yeah, it will be a problem."

But Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski said the city has no room to give on issues regarding the city’s tax increment and land decisions.

"At the end of the day, the city is not going to give up its taxing authority or its land use authority," Biskupski said, adding that other cities are looking to Salt Lake City to fight, "afraid that the state government is going to come into their community and take up" undeveloped acreage.

Instead, Biskupski said the Utah House of Representatives is where "heels are dug in."

"It is Speaker Hughes that needs to move," the mayor said.

In response, Hughes said in a statement he has not had "any contact" with Biskupski since the general legislative session (the city has been negotiating with Gov. Gary Herbert’s office) and fired back, saying it’s the city that wants "all political jurisdictions taken out, complete control of land use decisions and appeals" and nearly all tax increment.

"I don’t know what role a board with zero land use, appeal process (to ensure the public purpose is honored) or funding would even have," Hughes said. "Contrary to their public statements, Salt Lake City wants full control to decide what, where and when an inland port happens or if it happens at all."

Hughes added: "I’ll say it till I’m blue in the face, a U.S. Customs, foreign trade zone, inland port serving the entire state of Utah and the western continental United States is not a city function. Not Salt Lake City or any city for that matter. … You need a board that represents all the stakeholders at the table with the ability to make decisions. This isn’t a hard concept. To undermine that kind of approach means you aren’t committed to the Herculean effort required to see a project of this size through."

But Biskupski said state leaders’ beliefs that "the city can’t do the port without them is ridiculous."

"We do want them to partner with us, though. We do find value in that," Biskupski said. "I think the greediness is what needs to go away."

The city rejected a proposed compromise bill last week because it did not address the city’s concerns with land use authority and would still allow the Utah Inland Port Authority board to capture 100 percent of the area’s tax increment, with the power to give tax increment to other jurisdictions like West Valley City that are included in the port authority’s boundaries, the mayor said.

"You know, let’s get past that game," Biskupski said. "We’re either serious about the port or we’re not, and let’s do the boundaries the way they should be drawn and let’s build it."

Biskupski noted the city is still working with the governor’s office and Sen. Jerry Stevenson, R-Layton, so she hopes a compromise will be reached.

City Councilwoman Erin Mendenhall said in an interview that a lawsuit, "as far as the City Council is concerned, is a last resort," and "we believe there is still room to negotiate with the state through the City Council" if negotiations remain stalled with Biskupski.

Negotiations among Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski, Gov. Gary Herbert and legislative leadership have reached a standstill over provisions for a new inland port authority to govern development decisions for the city’s northwest quadrant.

"(Gochnour) is absolutely right" about litigation, Mendenhall said, "and the council wants to find the space to negotiate with the state to make the port happen. We are willing to come to the table again and recognize that in order to negotiate, both parties need to meet somewhere in the middle."

Mendenhall added: "The council is absolutely focused on the development of the port over politics. We recognize there have been less-than-positive conversations between the state and Mayor Biskupski, and don’t want the politics to get in the way of the success of the port."

The compromise bill draft that faltered last week included an appointment on the port authority board for the Salt Lake City mayor, some boundary changes to exclude environmentally sensitive lands and residential property, and to specify tax increment would need to stay within the port authority’s boundaries, Niederhauser said.

But Mendenhall said the "final brass tack" the city is least flexible on is the port authority’s power over land use decisions.

Meanwhile, as political leaders remain gridlocked, a group of concerned residents lambasted the lack of protections for northwest quadrant environmental issues and air quality concerns.

Representatives from communities in and near the inland port authority’s boundaries, as well as leaders of Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment, said an inland port will significantly impact the Salt Lake Valley’s already troubled air quality and create more freeway gridlock.

Deeda Seed, a campaigner with the environmental group Center for Biological Diversity, said inland ports are inherently "dirty," and that while impacts can be offset with cutting-edge technology, as briefly discussed in the Envision Utah panel, the community needs those protections written firmly into statute.

"This is not just another partisan political fight between government entities," said Dorothy Owen, chairwoman of the Westpointe Community Council at a news conference after the panel. "Rather it is a struggle to maintain the community values and lifestyle we cherish."

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Utah lawmaker wants to raise legal marriage age to 18

Heidi Clark holds a photograph from her 1995 wedding at her home in Orem, Utah, on Friday, May 18, 2018. Clark became pregnant at 16 and married soon after, under pressure from her boyfriend’s religious community of Seventh-Day Adventists in Pennsylvania, she said. “I always felt a little bit like I was trapped,” Clark said, now 40. “I was 17. I was so young.” Utah state Rep. Angela Romero wants to ban marriage for anyone under 18 as part of a national push to outlaw underage marriage. (Rick Bowmer/Associated Press)

SALT LAKE CITY — A push against underage marriage in the U.S. is coming to Utah, where a lawmaker wants to raise the legal age to 18 to prevent girls from being pressured into the unions associated with higher poverty and lower education rates.

High-profile teen marriage cases in Utah have happened in polygamous groups involving leaders like Warren Jeffs, who is serving a life prison sentence for sexually assaulting girls he considered wives. But it’s not the only place where it’s an issue.

There have been thousands of underage marriages in the U.S. since 2000, and until recently more than half of states didn’t set a limit on how young someone could be to get married if they met criteria like parental approval, said Jeanne Smoot of the Virginia-based Tahirih Justice Center.

“Many people assume this was something from generations that’s no longer happening in the U.S.,” she said Friday. But marriage data show more than 200,000 Americans younger than 18 got married between 2000 and 2015, she said. “We know there are significant numbers and we know there are some shockingly young minors who are married.”

In Utah, 253 people under age 18, most of them girls, got married in 2010, the most recent year Utah Health Department figures are available.

Under current Utah law, people as young as 15 can marry with permission from their parents and the court, while 16- and 17-year-olds can marry with parental permission.

Utah is in the top third of all states when it comes to children married each year, according to data gathered by the Tahirih Justice Center.

The nonprofit women’s legal advocacy group has pushed for reforms that started in 2016 when Virginia limited marriage to legal adults. Delaware became this first state to ban anyone younger than 18 from getting married, even with parental permission, earlier this year.

Such a law might have changed Heidi Clark’s life. The woman got pregnant at 16 and married soon after, under pressure from her boyfriend’s religious community of Seventh-Day Adventists in Pennsylvania, she said. A second daughter followed days after she graduated from high school, but the marriage went downhill after he husband was injured at work.

“I always felt a little bit like I was trapped,” Clark said, now 40 and living in Orem, Utah. “I was 17. I was so young.”

Determined to make the marriage work, she stayed even as the relationship because abusive. She didn’t go to college and when they divorced she had few job prospects and lost custody of her children. She’s since managed to rebuild her life and her relationship with her daughters but wants to see other girls spared her experience.

Rep. Angela Romero, a Salt Lake City Democrat, is preparing a proposal to raise the legal marriage age for the next legislative session in 2019. Teenage unions are particularly concerning when there is a large age gap between a bride and a groom, or when a there’s pressure to wed due to pregnancy, she said.

“We want to ensure that we’re protecting young women and giving them that choice,” she said.

One woman who said she didn’t have a choice in marriage was Elissa Wall, a Utah woman who testified was forced to marry to her cousin at age 14 when was growing up in the polygamous group led by Jeffs.

Her testimony about the 2001 union helped convict him on an accomplice-to-rape charge. She’s since left the group and was awarded a $16 million judgment last year.

Still, Romero said it’s a wider issue and polygamous groups aren’t her focus. Her proposal would apply to legal marriages; polygamous unions are illegal under the state’s bigamy law.

Utah law now allows a marriage exception to statutory rape laws, opening a potential way to avoid prosecution by marrying the victim, Smoot said.

Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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State looking into reports United Utah Party members’ party affiliations being switched

Rick Bowmer, Associated Press

SALT LAKE CITY — State elections officials are looking into instances of unauthorized voter registration changes reported by members of the United Utah Party, including the year-old party’s first candidate, Jim Bennett.

Bennett, who ran in last year’s special congressional election, said he checked and found that his voter registration had been switched to unaffiliated after hearing from other United Utah Party members their registrations had been changed.

"It’s bizarre to me. I don’t know what they think they can accomplish by doing this if sabotage is the goal," Bennett said. "The only damage being done to the party is we look smaller than we actually are."

State Elections Director Justin Lee said his office "will be looking into the issues. We encourage anyone who believes there is an issue with their voter registration to contact their county clerks or the lieutenant governor’s office."

On Friday, United Utah Party Chairman Richard Davis sent a letter to Lee requesting an investigation, citing at least three instances where party members discovered their affiliation had been changed without their consent

Besides Bennett, current 1st Congressional District candidate Eric Eliason and the party’s social media director, Jared Oates, both said they had been notified they were no longer United Utah Party members.

Eliason, who had previously changed his party registration when he got into the race to unseat Rep. Rob Bishop, R-Utah, said he received a new voter registration card showing him as a United Utah Party member.

But then, Eliason said, a second card arrived showing he had chosen to be an unaffliated voter.

Oates said he, too, initially received confirmation he was registered with the new party only to find out that he was listed as a Republican Party member online. Oates and Bennett both had made videos when they signed up with the new party.

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Bennett, who now serves as the spokesman for the United Utah Party, said Lee told party members last week that the changes were clerical errors made by county clerks offices.

The three instances cited by the party occurred in Salt Lake, Cache and Utah counties, Bennett said, raising the party’s concerns about what might be happening. He said the party is urging members to check their registrations.

Bennett said he has not yet corrected his party affiliation.

"I will," he said. "I want to make sure it’s solved before I change my registration back again. There may be an innocent explanation for this. We’re trying not to cast aspersions on anyone."

But Bennett said the number of registered United Utah Party members has appeared low compared to participation at party events. The state lists total membership at 591, the lowest of any recognized political party in the state.

Because the United Utah Party allows a member of any political party to participate, Bennett said the voter registration issue is hurting the party only "in terms of perception of our numbers."

He said that seems "to be an incredibly petty thing to do deliberately."

Lee, asked if he was concerned the United Utah Party may be being targeted to keep its membership number low, said, he has "no reason to believe that, but we will look into the issues to see what is going on.

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Alternative housing could mitigate decreasing affordability, advocates say

SALT LAKE CITY — With housing costs rising rapidly in the Salt Lake Valley, some advocates believe affordable solutions may lie in downsizing the way people live.

A few community advocates have introduced less expensive housing that could mitigate the growing affordability concern. Salt Lake resident Jeffrey White has spent decades in the real estate business as a broker and more recently as a non-traditional homebuilder.

A few years ago, he designed and constructed Sara House, located in the Glendale neighborhood in Salt Lake City, as a model for a possible alternative housing option. The dwelling was built using a discarded shipping container. The containers used are typically 20 feet or 40 feet in length and just over 8 feet high, White said, and can be constructed using a "kit" process that would allow almost anyone to build their own home.

The 20-foot, one-bedroom, one-bathroom model would cost about $36,000, while the larger model, which has an additional bedroom, would cost about $70,000, he said. He built a 432-square-foot model in a workspace located in the Granary District near downtown Salt Lake.

While not familiar to many in Utah, container homes have been used in other cities and abroad for decades, he said.

"We have built with containers before and those are the two models that somebody (with lower skills) that knows their way around a hammer would look at this and say, ‘Yeah, with a couple of friends, we could put either of these homes together.’"

The construction time would generally take a few days to a couple of weeks, he noted.

A somewhat similar designed was developed in Summit County with the development of Park City Base Camp, an answer to the call for affordable, functional, and flexible housing for seasonal workers, the homeless, emergency shelters, and special event spaces, explained project developer Blake Christian.

The unique design was developed as an ‘ultra-green,’ sustainable housing solution, said project designer Roi Maufas with Salt Lake City-based Gorilla Design.

Beginning with a used 45-foot shipping container, the unit can be made into an ultra-efficient, fully functional living space that sleeps four, uses recycled materials such as bamboo cabinetry and flooring, generates solar power and offers a minimal physical and carbon footprint, he said. It boasts the same ‘bones’ as White’s design, along with amenities such as 320 square feet of living space, optional shore-supplied or plug-in power, solar power that generates 5.9 kilowatts of power even in moonlight, on-site sewage treatment via bioremediating toilet, full insulation, a full kitchen and bathroom with shower, heat recovery ventilation system for efficient fresh air supply and low-voltage LED lighting.

He said the model would cost between $80,000 and $150,000 depending upon customization. He added the goal of his project is to develop a manufacturing facility and create jobs "in new, emerging green technologies" that pay a "living wage" in the $15 per hour to $26 per hour range, depending upon skill set.

"This model was developed for the worker population of Park City," Maufas said. "But it’s become more about starting a genuine conversation about affordable housing and sustainable economic development."

That idea is exactly what other advocates say can help mitigate the complicated matter of housing affordability, said June Hiatt, Director of Policy and Advocacy at the Utah Housing Coalition. Bring various stakeholders, including state and local civic leaders, together to address the issue of how to tackle the affordability issue facing the Wasatch Front today, she said.

The Salt Lake Board of Realtors reported that the median single-family home price in the first quarter climbed to $340,000 — 13.3 percent above the median price of $300,000 in last year’s first quarter. The county’s median home price reached its highest point ever recorded, up 11 percent over the previous peak in the summer of 2007 when the median single-family home price was an inflation-adjusted $306,624, the report stated.

Additionally, the Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute recently released a study on the rapid appreciation of housing prices in Utah and the increasing threat to affordability, especially along the Wasatch Front. Researchers discovered that significant employment and demographic growth has fueled exceptionally strong demand for housing — both rental and single-family, which has put upward pressure on housing costs.

Data from Irvine, California-based ATTOM Data Solutions showed the affordability gap in the Salt Lake metro area growing as the demand for housing rises. For the eighth straight year, vacancy rates for rental apartments in the Salt Lake valley declined — down to the lowest rates ever. A Sept. 2017 report by Cushman & Wakefield indicated the apartment market is currently at historic levels with mid-year figures showing the vacancy rate of just 2.6 percent — the lowest ever reported and that trend is continuing.

However, developers are responding by building scores of new units in an attempt to meet demand. Last year marked the sixth consecutive year with an overall vacancy rate below 4 percent, the report stated. While the optimal vacancy rate is considered to be around 5 percent, said Kip Paul, executive director of investment sales at Cushman & Wakefield’s Salt Lake office.

One local developer saw the trend for smaller urban living space becoming a growing trend nationwide a couple of years ago. Prompted by the "tiny house" or small-house movement — an architectural and social drive advocating simple living in spaces typically under 500 square feet — developer Steve Ruf of Ruf and Associates in Orem built 60 units of micro-apartment housing in the Central Ninth neighborhood of Salt Lake City directly across from the 900 South TRAX station.

The Greenprint Apartments include two four-story buildings that house 30 units each with 250 square feet to 350 square feet of living space, a bathroom and a kitchenette. Rents range between $700 and $800, Ruf said.

"It’s affordable (for new housing) because of the price point," he said.

He said the idea for the micro-units was born after a visit to Seattle and Portland in the Pacific Northwest where such housing options have worked well, particularly in cities where housing costs are higher than average. He also saw similar units in Des Moines, Iowa, he added.

"We thought, ‘Wow, this could work really well in Salt Lake, especially with what is going on with the housing market here,’" Ruf said, noting the increasing demand for affordable apartments by the younger demographic.

"We’re trying to attract professionals, millennials, people who want to have a small (environmental) footprint and who don’t necessarily want or have cars," he said. These are people who want a more urban lifestyle, he added.

Meanwhile, among the main hurdles to climb for container homes or even alternative rental units would be state and local ordinances that have yet to consider non-traditional building materials and structures, as well as density levels, Hiatt said. It’s an issue legislators and municipalities would have to take on sooner than later if the problem isn’t to become too big to handle, she said.

In Utah, we have 68,762 extremely low-income households with earnings less than the poverty guideline or 30 percent of area median income, Hiatt explained. Across the state, there is a deficit of 47,180 rental homes both affordable and available to extremely low-income households, she noted, 68 percent of such households pay more than half of their income on housing.

New research shows rapid job and population growth in Utah is producing exceptionally strong demand for housing and creating an affordability issue in the process as prices for rental units and homes for purchase climb higher and higher.

"In the short run, the state of Utah and cities need to put money into housing. They need to ‘put money where their mouth is,’" she said. "The state can allocate funding to the development of affordable housing to supplement the skyrocketing cost of building (new units)."

According to Zillow.com, the median home value in Park City is $679,189, with a median list price per square foot in the Summit Park metro area above $600 — making it the most expensive residential real estate in Utah. Because of that expense, affordability has been a long-standing concern, particularly for the scores of employees that work at area ski resorts as well as local municipal workers and people in fields like public education.

A recently proposed residential housing plan could offer a possible solution to the issue of affordability. Discovery Ridge, scheduled to break ground this spring, will be a 70-acre mountain residential development that will include 97 lots, 30 of which will be set aside as "affordable" units, explained Mitch Beckstead, managing partner with Salt Lake City-based American Landmark Group.

"It’s 50, 60 and 70 percent of average median income (for Summit County)," he said. The plan is for 10 units for each income segment, he noted.

The need for increased affordability came from a 100-home community the company built in North Dakota during the energy boom. It was then he realized how expensive housing was becoming and that something needed to be done to allow "average" wage earners to be able to live in the communities they were working in, he said.

"I got to know the state police, border patrol, sheriff’s office and they had no place to live," Beckstead said. "Rents were $4,000 a month and they couldn’t find houses (they could afford)."

Fast forward to today, he noted that when Summit County required affordable units to be included in the Discovery Ridge development, he asked civic leaders to designate the lots for public safety and teachers.

"The reason why is because when we have (an emergency) situation, 65 percent of the public safety people live in the Salt Lake Valley because they can’t afford to live up there," he explained. Upon hearing his suggestion, local civic leaders concurred and the plan was approved, he said.

With real estate prices escalating rapidly, solutions like this are critical to future development, Beckstead said. Governmental entities also should consider streamlining the approval process to help developers keep up with increasing demand, he added.

Lastly, he noted, municipalities will have to reconsider density restrictions rather than continuing to demand large lots as land prices rise and demographic changes shift demand away from traditional, stand-alone single-family properties.

"The market is not going to support it (going forward)," he said. "(Conversely) there is not one city in the state that wants (high-density housing). Condo flats and townhomes — cities do not want them."

He said with the younger generation moving away from large homes to smaller (and even tiny) dwellings, cities will have to shift their priorities in order to accommodate the new breed of buyer and renter.

"Millennials don’t stay in the same house for (decades)," Beckstead said. "They stay for 10 (years) and leave."

Municipalities will need to learn that lesson sooner rather than later in order to mitigate the growing affordability issue in Utah, he said.

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Wasatch Front homes prices soar as ‘for sale’ signs remain scarce

Trent Nelson | Salt Lake Tribune file photo The median sales prices of a home on Salt Lake City’s east side, below the University of Utah and north of 900 South, rose 31 percent in the past year to $440,500.

Veteran real estate agent Liz Slager wasn’t a bit surprised to hear that the median sale price of a home in and around Emigration Canyon skyrocketed to $600,000 in the first quarter of 2018 — nearly $100,000 more than just a year earlier.

“For properties up to $1 million, there’s a lot of people chasing those deals,” said Slager, who has specialized in the sale of high-end homes for nearly two decades.

Demand and a limited inventory of available homes are driving up prices in the ZIP codes where she spends much of her time, including 84108, which covers Emigration Canyon and the St. Mary’s neighborhood at the canyon mouth.

The 19 percent, year-over-year gain there made 84108 the first Salt Lake County ZIP code to reach $600,000 in median home value, according to quarterly sales statistics released Thursday by the Salt Lake Board of Realtors.

The median price of Salt Lake County homes sold in the first quarter was $340,000, up 13.3 percent over a year earlier ($300,000). Utah County had virtually the same percentage increase, to $325,000, while sale prices rose 12.2 percent in Weber County (to $230,000) and 10.2 percent in Davis County (to $297,000).

The real estate boom is even more evident in Tooele County, which had 307 homes sold January through March, a 41 percent year-over-year increase. And the median sale price of those homes jumped 16 percent since 2017’s first quarter, to $255,000.

“Higher home prices are becoming a hurdle for many first-time home buyers,” said Salt Lake Board of Realtors President Adam Kirkham. “Demand for homes continues to outpace supply. The shortfall in housing units is likely to continue for several more years.”

After the number of Salt Lake County sales dropped in the fourth quarter of 2017 because so few homes were listed, enough single-family dwellings were on the market in the first quarter to boost sales by 5 percent over the same period a year earlier.

Most home salesZIP code 84074 (Tooele) • 254.84015 (Clearfield) • 246.84404 (Farr West) • 220.84096 (Herriman) • 192. 84043 (Lehi) • 186. Source: Salt Lake Board of Realtors.

Slager said the mild winter made it easier to look for homes than in past years, accounting for some of the increase. But much of Emigration Canyon’s appeal stems from its proximity and similarity to Park City — “It’s like a back road to get to the ski resorts; you’re out of the inversion, and there are large lots,” she said — while the St. Mary’s neighborhood has many larger homes that have been renovated lately.

Her sphere of influence also takes in ZIP code 84103, which includes posh Avenues and Federal Heights neighborhoods. It was the second most expensive ZIP code along the Wasatch Front. The median sales price of a home there rose 20.4 percent from the first quarter of 2017 (when it was $461,000) to $555,000 this year.

Biggest price increases by percentageZIP code 84058 (Orem) • Up 35.8 percent, to $360,000.84102 (Salt Lake City) • Up 31.3 percent, to $440,000.84029 (Grantsville) • Up 26.8 percent, to $271,250.84014 (Centerville) • Up 26.3 percent, to $360,000.84010 (Bountiful) • Up 23.4 percent, to $359,000. Source: Salt Lake Board of Realtors.

With so few homes on the market, competition for listed properties could be intense. “Some people get pretty discouraged,” Slager said, noting that would-be buyers see deals they can afford, “and they’re going after them, but then they find they’re only one of five or six offers out there. Or they end up buying just to buy because the inventory gets swooped up so fast.”

Along the Wasatch Front, listed homes remained on the market for an average of 24 days in the first quarter of 2018, down from 27 days a year prior.

Median price of Wasatch Front condominium salesSalt Lake County • $240,000, up 11.3 percent.Davis County • $218,000, up 10.4 percent.Utah County • $213,800, up 20.2 percent.Tooele County • $179,200, up 23.6 percent.Weber County • $166,000, up 15.3 percent. Source: Salt Lake Board of Realtors.

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Jazz vs. Rockets: How Utah and Houston match up in the second round of the NBA playoffs

Key stats: Houston outscored Utah by an average of 17.5 points in four regular-season victories. The Rockets have won 23 of their last 24 home games … Utah’s Donovan Mitchell is the only rookie besides Kareem Abdul-Jabbar to score at least 20 points in his first six playoff games. Mitchell’s 38-point close-out game against Oklahoma City was the fourth-highest rookie scoring total in a playoff series-clinching win.

Outlook: Since Rudy Gobert returned for Utah in mid-January, the Jazz and Rockets were the West’s top teams. This series pits defense against offense. Utah allowed 99.8 points a game this season, tied for the fewest in the NBA, while Houston averaged 112.4, second only to Golden State, and jacked that up to 116.3 in four games against Utah, which missed Gobert for only one of them. Gobert transforms Utah. The Jazz limited opponents to 7.3 fewer points per 100 possessions when he was on the floor. Houston will try to draw him from rim protection by running pick-and-rolls about one-fourth of the time. Utah guards need to contain on the perimeter, but Ricky Rubio is coming off a hamstring injury and is out for Game 1. Houston made only 31.5% of its three-pointers in the first three games against a weaker Minnesota defense, but the Rockets’ arsenal found the range in the final two games. Likely MVP James Harden averaged 34.3 points against Utah, including a 56-point game when Chris Paul was out. Houston could get forward Luc Mbah a Moute (dislocated shoulder) back this series for a defensive boost against Utah’s slow-paced offense.

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Take a peek inside the homes of Salt Lake City’s Country Club neighborhood during tour on Saturday

Construction began in the 1920s and continued through the 1980s, creating many architectural styles, from Spanish Colonial and English Tudor to more modern ranch styles, said Kirk Huffaker, executive director of Preservation Utah, formerly the Utah Heritage Foundation.

“The homes in this area offer a wide variety of design and scale,” he said, “as they were built over several decades and reflect the wealth that moved to the area.”

Preservation Utah will celebrate the eclectic mix during its 47th annual Historic Home Tour on Saturday, April 21, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Those who buy tickets can see the interiors of three homes. The tour also includes several points of architectural interest. Advance tickets are $20 at preservationutah.org.

On Saturday, tickets are $25 and can be purchased only at the tour headquarters, the triangular park strip between Oneida Street (2150 East) and Country Club Drive (2300 South).

Besides a mix of styles, the neighborhood stands out for its large setbacks from the street and open space, said Huffaker.

Several homes were designed by well-known local architects, including Taylor Woolley, who studied under and drafted for Frank Lloyd Wright. Other local architects include George F. Johnson and Ed Dreier.

The neighborhood is one of several upscale Salt Lake City neighborhoods — along with the Avenues, Federal Heights and Harvard-Yale — in transition. Aging residents sell to younger families who want to live close to the city, but want to change the older homes to include modern-day features.

While there are “good and bad examples” of upgrades, Flanders said, “we hope to show how great the neighborhood is and that you can still have new things but keep the historic character” of a house and neighborhood.

The updates that Charisse and Andy Theurer have made to their home on Country Club Drive are a good example of what preservation specialists like to see.

“We really like the look and the open feel of our home and have gone to great lengths to try to preserve and even enhance it,” said Andy Theurer, who has the home’s original architectural and landscape plans. They will be available to view on the tour.

He said the Prairie-style home, built in 1977, is reminiscent of the homes built by Wright. It even has a hidden front entrance.

“Wright wanted people to walk around the yard and see the architecture,” Theurer said. “Ours is the same way. It’s hard to find the front door; people are always coming in the back.”

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