Inside the film sessions that helped turn Donovan Mitchell into Utah’s No. 1 option

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah Jazz coach Quin Snyder, remote control in hand as he sits in the spacious, state-of-the-art film room at the team’s practice facility, rewinds the clip of Donovan Mitchell drilling a corner 3-pointer, replaying it a couple times on the large projector screen.

Snyder then poses a pointed question to the Rookie of the Year candidate, the only player in the room, who is seated to the coach’s right in the front row, flanked by assistant coach Johnnie Bryant.

"What do you got going there? Is that a new arrow thing you got going?" Snyder asks, playfully referring to Mitchell’s post-shot celebration.

"Sometimes I just do things that come to my head," Mitchell says, shrugging and taking a sip of his smoothie.

It’s a brief moment of levity during a 55-minute film session the day after the Jazz’s March 28 loss to the Boston Celtics. These sort of sessions, conducted daily by Bryant, with Snyder occasionally joining the pair or calling in Mitchell for additional individual film study, have been an essential part of Mitchell’s evolution into the rare NBA rookie who serves as a bona fide go-to guy on a good team.

Mitchell averaged 20.5 points during the regular season for the 48-34 Jazz, becoming the first rookie since Carmelo Anthony in 2004-05 to lead a playoff-bound team in points per game. He joined a list of legends (Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Larry Bird and David Robinson) as rookies who were the leading scorers on teams that won at least 48 games.

As talented as Mitchell is — and he has drawn comparisons to Dwyane Wade from some scouts — that sort of historic production from a 13th overall pick is a testament to the Jazz coaching staff’s developmental work. They’ve guided the gifted 21-year-old, teaching him how to read defensive coverages as he became the focal point of opponents’ game plans and drilling Mitchell on the finer details of basketball.

"You got to the corner," Bryant says to Mitchell, halting the brief humorous interlude and steering the conversation to the reason Mitchell’s catch-and-shoot 3 in transition was included among the few dozen plays worth reviewing from the loss to the Celtics. "You didn’t stop at the break. How many clips have you seen that this year?"

Bryant has been stressing to Mitchell all season the importance of sprinting all the way to the corner when he’s filling an outside line in transition, trying to break him of his habit of settling on the wing. That’s in large part because the corner 3 is a much more efficient shot, particularly for Mitchell, who made 48.5 percent of his attempts from the corners this season, compared to 32.5 percent of above-the-break 3s.

It’s also due to the impact on spacing, opening avenues for teammates by forcing a defender to account for him all the way into the corner.

"I know this might sound bad, but I hope that he misses those shots at the break," Bryant says. "So I can be like, ‘The basketball gods are rewarding you for getting to the corner.’"

"One thing about him is he’s not afraid to try things and really apply it. That’s something that’s rare. A lot of guys want to stay in their comfort zone."

Mitchell grins. He’s heard this plenty of times from Bryant, a 32-year-old former University of Utah guard who has earned a reputation as a developmental guru, having groomed Gordon Hayward into an All-Star before he departed for Boston in free agency.

The dirty work of Mitchell’s development is Bryant’s top priority. He’s the assistant who conducts the rookie’s individual workouts, pregame shooting routines and film sessions, from scouting opponents to game review to watching other stars to try to learn their tricks. Bryant is the constant voice in Mitchell’s ear.

"So it’s pretty glamorous when he’s watching tape and Johnnie’s pounding him on literally like five feet," Snyder jokes. "Spoken like a true coach, right?"

THIS ROLE ISN’T what the Jazz had in mind for Mitchell when they traded up to draft him out of Louisville, where he averaged 15.6 points per game as a sophomore last season.

Utah’s front office identified Mitchell as a prospect who could contribute immediately due to his athleticism and intangibles and who had potential to develop into a primary scoring option over the years.

Then Hayward bolted in free agency, leaving a huge void in the Jazz offense. The blow of that bad news was eased just a little bit by Mitchell’s dominant performance in the Utah Summer League on the day Hayward’s decision was announced. By the time the Jazz summer team left Las Vegas, expectations for Mitchell had increased dramatically.

The developmental timetable for Mitchell accelerated due to his aptitude. He showed the ability to develop new skills — such as finishing off one foot in traffic, a focus in his offseason workouts with Bryant — and instantly incorporate them into his game, grasping through film study the appropriate times to use his new tools.

"These guys dig in," Snyder says of Mitchell and Bryant. "It’s that kind of cycle of ‘practice it, recognize it, use it.’ That whole process is what makes these guys good together."

Mitchell got off to a slow start, averaging only 9.3 points and shooting an unsightly 32.3 percent from the floor primarily as a reserve in seven October games, but he had established himself as a fixture in the Jazz’s starting lineup by mid-November and as the clear go-to guy soon after.

Mitchell’s reliability in that role was a factor in the franchise’s deadline decision to trade Rodney Hood, a pending restricted free agent who was the top internal candidate to be the offensive focal point after Hayward’s departure.

Mitchell averaged more than 21 points per game in each month from December on, consistently excelling as the defensive schemes to stop him became more complicated. The coaches’ crash course for Mitchell, who starts at shooting guard and plays some point guard, has advanced into masters-level classes.

"It’s gone from reading his defender and the defender in pick-and-roll to reading the help," Snyder says after the film session. "It’s deeper — more levels, more things to see."

"WHAT JUST HAPPENED?" Snyder asks Mitchell a few seconds into a clip of a possession on which the rookie initiated the offense, passed to Ricky Rubio on the wing and spaced the floor as Dante Exum sliced for a layup.

Snyder peppers Mitchell with this sort of pop quiz throughout the session, prodding him to explain his thought process.

"I believe it was this time, I told Ricky, I just want to jam the guy off me," Mitchell says, pointing out a detail a casual fan might not notice: a subtle screen Rubio set to force Celtics stopper Jaylen Brown to switch, leaving Shane Larkin on Mitchell.

"You got it, you got it," Snyder says as the screen shows Mitchell coming off a pick-and-roll with Rudy Gobert and firing a simple pass to Rubio, who is wide-open on the left wing because Brown has shifted all the way to the "nail" — the middle of the free throw line — to help.

That’s the kind of respect elite scorers get in the NBA, and this play is an example of the progress Mitchell has made this season.

In this instance, moving the ball to the weak side was the right play, one that draws praise from Snyder.

"Perfect," Snyder says. "So this is a great example, Donovan, of you starting the blender. So even though this play is quote-unquote ‘for you,’ you go right there, and you make the simple play and get off it.

Maximizing the attention Mitchell commands is a frequent theme throughout the film session. It’s why Bryant harps so much on sprinting all the way to the corner in transition. It’s why Snyder shows Mitchell a possession on which the rookie never touches the ball but impacts the play by circling back to the top of the arc while Rubio probes the baseline — "Nashes," as Snyder calls it — stretching the defense to create room for Gobert to cut for a dunk.

"You’re getting to a point where, because of the way people are playing you, it’s even more important for you to space," Snyder says as the clip of Gobert’s dunk plays. "Because if you’re not spaced, we don’t get to take advantage of your gravity, right?"

That gravity is never heavier than when Mitchell has the ball in his hands during a half-court possession. His coaches are constantly teaching him the NBA chess match, identifying opportunities to attack, where to get shots and when it’s best to move the ball.

Snyder beams when he shows a possession from late in the fourth quarter because Mitchell makes a couple of quick, terrific reads. Never mind that Mitchell admits that he didn’t know which play was called, nor did it produce any points.

"In this action here, you’re going to draw attention, and this is the right play," Snyder says as the clip shows Mitchell running a pick-and-roll on the left wing and firing a crosscourt pass to Joe Ingles.

"You’ve done your job right now. Jaylen Brown has to pull in on Rudy’s roll, and that should be a shot for Joe or a snap to Rudy. Basically, what you’ve done here, Donovan, is got us either a shot or a snap. We just didn’t [execute]."

Ingles instead looks to Rubio in the corner and passes the ball back to Mitchell. As the defense loads up again, Gobert sneaks behind Brown to set a back screen as Mitchell fires another pass to Ingles, giving one of the NBA’s 3-point percentage leaders a wide-open look that he misses.

"And that’s the same thing," Snyder says as the second pass leaves Mitchell’s hands. "It’s f—ing great. So two times in one possession, you’ve read the defense and got out. This is great offense."

Bryant tells Snyder to rewind it again.

"Look where Jaylen Brown’s at once you get the ball back from Joe," Bryant says. "He’s loading up ready to help on the drive. You’re the threat.

"This is what James Harden’s really good at. He’ll see the shift, and before he even comes off the pick-and-roll, it’s a quick swing. So as you’re playing, Rudy may come up and set a pick-and-roll, but it may be a situation where we swing it real quick, and then we have an advantage."

AFTER GOBERT ENGULFS Brown with a screen at the top of the arc, Mitchell gets Boston big man Aron Baynes to bite on the possibility that he’ll pull the trigger on a 3, setting up an easy blow-by into the teeth of the Celtics’ defense. Jayson Tatum grabs Mitchell instead of giving up the easy dunk or layup.

"So why was this open?" Bryant asks. "Why did he foul you right here?"

Mitchell: "Because I hesitated and got back into it."

Bryant’s eyes light up as he nods his head, proud that his prize pupil has gotten the message. Mitchell has the gift of rare explosiveness, but he can’t make the most of it if he drives only 100 mph and misses some billboards, as Bryant puts it.

"Exactly. You changed speeds, right? So the threat of you being able to shoot that shot brings him up," Bryant says, clapping his hands.

"Now he comes up toward you. It’s the same clips we watched yesterday morning [on Damian Lillard]. Now he comes up. Now you attack."

Snyder adds his two cents in support of Bryant’s point of emphasis.

"When Chris Paul says, ‘Wait until the game slows down for him,’ that’s what he’s talking about," Snyder says. "Because when you change speeds, by definition, you see more."

"Like I told Johnnie, I don’t do that on purpose," Mitchell says.

"But you can train it, though," Snyder replies. "In fact, one of the things, because you’re getting more curls on the chase, like almost like a skip, you turn and you change speeds with your body even without your feet. That’s why you do all the stuff you’re doing with JB. The sequence is important."

Bryant wants to note one other thing before they move on to the next clip. When Mitchell caught the inbounds pass as he came off the Gobert screen, he put the ball down with his inside hand, allowing his shoulders to get vertical immediately. It’s something they work on every day, the kind of detail that makes a difference but would never be noticed by most fans.

"You’re here, and now you’re downhill," Bryant says.

"That’s big," Snyder adds. "That’s a huge point, being square, because that’s why that’s a threat."

THE NEXT CLIP features another instance of Mitchell coming off a great screen by Gobert and getting in the lane, this time blowing by Guerschon Yabusele for an easy layup.

"This is really good by Rudy," Snyder says. "Especially when they’re up on you like that, Jaylen Brown’s got no chance. Right? And Yabusele has no chance."

Snyder rewinds to show Yabusele jab his right foot toward Mitchell as the rookie hesitates.

"And all you’ve got to do is get him f—ing leaning a little bit, especially because all these guys now are trained to jab, to fake at you. Look at that.

"But I’m telling you: Rudy makes this play."

If all goes well, Mitchell will have the luxury of playing the majority of his career with Gobert, a dominant defensive force who takes great pride in excelling as a complementary offensive player, in particular as a screener. According to NBA.com advanced stats, Gobert averaged 6.1 "screen assists" per game, the most in the league by a wide margin.

Bryant and Snyder spend a lot of time discussing the subtleties of screens with Mitchell. "Connectivity" is one of Snyder’s big buzzwords, and it especially applies to the Jazz’s two franchise cornerstones.

"How is the communication going with Rudy?" Snyder asks. This question comes after a defensive clip, but it applies to offense as well.

"It’s gotten better," Mitchell answers. "Even if what he’s saying I don’t really agree with, it’s kind of just saying, ‘OK,’ so that he feels confident to keep [talking]."

"When you get married," Snyder says, "you’ll realize that’s how it works."

The last clip of the session features an awkward pick-and-roll dance with Gobert. With the shot clock down to eight seconds, Mitchell rushes and jacks a contested pull-up 3 that misses short after Gobert doesn’t get much of a screen on Larkin.

Bryant, who had mentioned moments earlier that eight seconds is an eternity in a half-court possession, blames Mitchell for not giving Gobert a chance to set a good enough screen.

"Let him get in the channel, retreat dribble, keep [the defender] on your hip, let Rudy flip it," Bryant says. "Now you can attack there."

Adds Snyder: "It’s the patience."

FAST-FORWARD TO the following week, when Mitchell coverts a dazzling drive and and-1 layup over LA Clippers center DeAndre Jordan that was featured on all the highlight shows. It’s a high pick-and-roll with Gobert, and after the initial pick isn’t much of a hit, Mitchell spins and takes a dribble with his left and crosses back over.

The move brings Clippers forward C.J. Williams right into Gobert and gives Mitchell a clear runway. He changes speeds and directions as he goes to the basket, getting Jordan on his heels before accelerating at him.

Mitchell draws contact while executing a "goofy-foot finish" — a technique taught to him by Bryant, catching shot-blockers off-guard with a quick, right-handed scoop while leaping off the right foot.

Mitchell listened, learned and executed.

"One thing about him is he’s not afraid to try things and really apply it," Bryant says after the film session. "That’s something that’s rare. A lot of guys want to stay in their comfort zone. He has the ability to go out there and apply it."

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BLM proposes fee increases, improvements at multiple Utah regions

SALT LAKE CITY — The Bureau of Land Management created five recreation business plans for distinct regions in Utah that ponder new fee increases to pay for more campgrounds, better access and to meet demands of significant visitation increases.

Proposals for improvements are out for public comment May 11 and impact recreation destinations in the Moab, Monticello, Vernal, Cedar City and Salt Lake City field offices of the BLM.

The BLM Utah office notes that 95 percent of its lands are fee free. It manages 77 developed recreation fee sites across the state. In 2017, BLM lands hosted more than 7.9 million visitors, contributing $551 million to the state’s economy.

Places under consideration for improvements serve a diverse variety of recreation needs — from a new campground in San Juan County to limit dispersed camping along the Bears Ears Road to improved parking and an electronic payment device for the Knolls Off-Highway Vehicle Area in Tooele County.

In the Moab region, the BLM manages 29 campgrounds that get more than 90,000 visitors a year. The agency is proposing to raise the overnight fees from $15 to $20 and group rates from $4 per person to $5 per person.

The plan proposes to add five developed campgrounds where demand is high: Klondike Bluffs, Black Ridge, Utah Rims, Mineral Bottom Road and Cameo Cliffs/Hook and Ladder.

In 2017, camping fees generated $994,000, but expenses for the BLM’s Moab office eclipsed that at nearly $1.2 million.

Visitation to BLM lands is extremely high in Utah’s red rock country in the Moab region. In 2016, those lands hosted 2.5 million people, more than Arches National Park — by nearly a million more visitors.

The Monticello Field Office primarily covering San Juan County oversees recreation activities on 1.8 million acres of public land. In 2017, it had 64 percent more recorded visits than it did in 2013.

It notes that visitation is causing a strain on natural resources and carries threats to the vast number of archaeological sites in the region.

The draft business plan proposes to increase camping fees for Hamburger Rock, Creek Pasture and the Superbowl campgrounds from $10 to $15. It also proposes to expand Comb Wash and begin charging $15 to camp there.

Three new fee sites will be developed at Shay Vista, Grand Flats and Muley Point. Grand Flats is designed to limit camping along Bears Ears Road and Deer Flat Road to designated camping.

"Increased dispersed camping along those roads and elsewhere in Cedar Mesa has resulted in large visitor impacts to soil, vegetation and cultural resources," the plan noted.

The office plans to expand the Comb Wash campground within the Shash Jaa unit of the Bears Ears National Monument and begin charging a $15 camping fee per night once the improvements are completed. In particular, the BLM will put in barriers to protect archaeological resources.

In the Salt Lake Field office area, the draft plan calls for improvements to Knolls Off-Highway Vehicle Area which covers 35,877 acres in Tooele County. The park was established in 1990 and hosts about 35,000 visitors a year.

The proposal calls for raising entrance fees from $6 to $10 per vehicle and doubling the cost of an annual pass from $40 to $80.

The BLM said the number of registered off-highway vehicle users is on the rise, with 199,231 registered vehicles in the state. Visitation at Knolls has increased 42 percent over the last five years.

Improvements will be made to the parking areas and plans also call for the installation of power for an electronic payment device.

In the Vernal area, the BLM wants to increase fees at three developed campgrounds — Bridge Hollow, Indian Crossing and Pelican Lake — from $5 per site to $10. Group sites would increase from $30 to $35.

Over the long term, the field office’s draft plan calls for the construction of four new campgrounds, two new boat ramps, one new trailhead and one yurt. The area experiences moderate visitation, with about 428,896 people over fiscal year 2017.

The plan for the Cedar City field office that covers Iron and Beaver counties calls for adding fee campgrounds at Rocky Peak, Carter Cabin and the Hanging Rock recreation site. The area features 2.1 million acres that saw 564,864 visitors in 2017 who frequented multiple trails, disc golf courses and the Three Peaks Model Port and RC Track.

The Cedar City Field Office of the BLM does not generate any revenue from recreation sites because it does not assess fees. Under the proposal, there would be modest increases of $5 or $10 for overnight camping at some sites. New fees would be added at the radio control track once it is fully developed.

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Silva, Severino lead Real Salt Lake past Whitecaps

Luis Silva and Jefferson Savarino scored and Real Salt Lake beat the Vancouver Whitecaps 2-1 (Twitter/@RealSaltLake)

Luis Silva and Jefferson Savarino scored and Real Salt Lake beat the Vancouver Whitecaps 2-1 on Saturday night.

Real Salt Lake (2-2-1) took the lead in the fourth minute of first-half stoppage time. Silva settled Brooks Lennon’s cross in the middle of the area, spun back to his left and fired a left-footed shot that redirected in off defender Jakob Nerwinski.

In the 88th minute, Damir Kreilach played a through ball up the left side to Corey Baird, who crossed it back to Savarino for the tap-in and 2-0 lead.

Brek Shea closed the scoring for Vancouver (3-2-1) in the 92nd minute with a left-footed blast into the right corner.

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Families face man accused of murdering Utah teens as grisly details surface in court

PROVO, Utah – Six days after the bodies of Riley Powell and Breezy Otteson were recovered from an abandoned mine in Utah County, their families faced their alleged killer, Jerrod Baum, in court as the Utah County Attorney revealed gruesome details about the case.

Riley’s sister, Nikka Powell, broke into tears as she described her feelings after seeing Baum for the first time, according to KSTU.

"My brother didn’t deserve this and neither did she. They had a whole life. We had a whole life to live. She was only 17. He was 18," said Powell.

According to charging documents, Baum’s girlfriend, Morgan Henderson, says Baum arrived home and became upset that the two teens had visited her.

According to a probable cause statement released in court, Henderson said, "Baum bound the victims’ hands and feet, duct-taped their mouths, and placed them in the back of Riley’s jeep."

The probable cause statement also said that Breezy was, "forced to kneel near the open mine pit and witness the beating and stabbing of her boyfriend, Riley Powell before she had throat cut and (was) thrown into the open mine".

Utah County Deputy District Attorney Chad Grunander said Baum was under the impression that Breezy was pregnant, "offering his congratulations as they walked from the car to the open mine shaft."

"There was a belief she was pregnant but, in fact, we do not believe she was," said Grunander.

Breezy’s aunt, Amanda Hunt, said the thought makes the murder even more horrific.

"If you thought she was pregnant, you’re not only taking two lives, you’re taking a third life and it just makes it more heinous. We don’t understand. It’s not fair," said Hunt.

After the murders, Baum told Henderson he "made Riley suffer, but felt bad about Breezy so he made her death quick and painless," according to charging documents.

At this point, Henderson is only facing obstruction of justice charges.

"An accomplice requires proactive participation in the crime, but also that individual must have the same mental state as the primary actor," said Grunander.

Baum could face the death penalty for the aggravated murder charges.

"This is a potential capital case," Grunander said. "Mr. Baum could die for what he allegedly did."

Riley’s father, Bill Powell, said he thinks that’s exactly the punishment Baum deserves.

"Hit him in the head with a hammer. I mean really. Did those kids get pain reliever or anything? No, they got tortured. They suffered," Powell said.

"It’s just hard to actually realize that they’re gone now. Really gone," said Nikka Powell.

The Utah County Attorney is still deciding whether or not to pursue the death penalty. If not, the minimum sentence for aggravated murder is 25 years to life in prison.

Baum will be back in court on April 26.

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Penn State tops Utah to win NIT championship

NEW YORK — Flavor Flav had his red cap flipped backward as he pulled out his iPhone on the Madison Square Garden court. Flav held the camera steady and recorded cousin Shep Garner clip the final strands of the championship net and wave it toward the Penn State die-hards.

Flav’s T-shirt at the NIT said it all for the Nittany Lions: Believe the hype!

Garner hit the 3-pointer that brought rapper and reality star Flavor Flav to his feet and helped send Penn State on its way to an NIT title in an 82-66 victory over Utah on Thursday night.

The fourth-seeded Nittany Lions (26-13) also knocked off No. 1 seed Notre Dame in the tournament en route to winning their first NIT title since 2009.

"This means the whole world to me right now ," Flavor Flav said.

They were pretty pumped in Happy Valley, too.

"I think we set the standard," Garner said. "We preach defense and rebounding, but now we have something we can always go to. We won something. We’re champions."

Flavor Flav, member of the seminal `80s rap group Public Enemy, sang along to "Fight the Power" as it blasted in the Garden and had the PSU student section chanting "Flav! Flav! Flav!" as the Nittany Lions pulled away for a program-defining championship under coach Pat Chambers.

Lamar Stevens scored 28 points, Josh Reaves had 18 and Tony Carr had 15 points and 14 assists for Penn State.

Penn State’s Bryce Jordan Center has a long-standing reputation as one of the dreariest arenas in college basketball. Penn State fans, from rappers to silver-haired alumni, packed the Garden all the way to the last row of the upper deck.

Penn State football coach James Franklin, who led the program to a Pinstripe Bowl victory in 2014, was in the house. Flavor Flav stole the show a few rows behind the PSU bench. Wearing a T-shirt that read "33 Shep Garner," Flavor Flav danced all night in his seat. Flavor Flav popped his T-shirt and raised the roof in the same arena where Public Enemy once tore down the house.

"I think we’ve proven to teams across the country that Penn State basketball is here to stay," Chambers said.

The clutch moment came in the third quarter when Garner — who became Penn State’s career 3-point leader in the tournament run — hit a 3 for his first basket of the game and a 49-41 lead that had the fans going wild.

"To see my cousin break records, win trophies, all that, he deserves it," Flavor Flav said. "The whole team deserves it."

Reaves hit a crashing layup on a three-point play that stretched the lead to 11 and Stevens wagged his tongue toward the PSU fans on a jumper that helped blow open the game.

Flavor Flav raised an arm in the air when Garner sank a 3 early in the fourth for a 68-49 edge that all but put this one away.

The final minutes certainly put some flava in your ear — half the MSG crowd chanted "We Are!" and the other half bellowed "Penn State!"

Yeah, boy!

Sedrick Barefield hit six 3s and scored 22 points for second-seeded Utah (23-12).

"You’re always kind of watching the NIT and maybe you think of it as the consolation prize or whatever," Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak said. "They have no idea how cool this was for us."

Big picture
Utah: David Collette, Justin Bibbins and Tyler Rawson are among the seniors moving on. … Bibbins scored 15 points.

Penn State: Stevens reached 1,000 career points was named most outstanding player. … Chambers, a former assistant coach under Jay Wright at Villanova, took over in 2011 and has struggled to find any kind of regular success. The Nittany Lions have never made the NCAA Tournament under Chambers and they’ll have just their second winning record in seven seasons. But Penn State’s 26 wins are second-highest in program history. The Nittany Lions won a record 27 games in 2008-09.

Big crowd
The 11,175 fans at MSG were the most for an NIT final since 2005.

"And you say we’re a football school," Chambers cracked.

Something different
The NIT was a bit of a mad scientist in the college basketball lab. The game featured four 10-minute quarters. The tournament also implemented the FIBA 3-point line (22 feet, 1.75 inches), NBA-width lane of 16 inches, and a 20-second shot clock following offensive rebounds.

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Fast-rising housing prices a problem for those with lower income — and could hurt Utah’s competitiveness, according to new U. study

(Trent Nelson | Tribune file photo) A shortage of homes for sale along the booming Wasatch Front has resulted in Utah having some of the country’s fastest-rising home prices, which could end up hurting the economy because household incomes are not keeping pace, a threat to home ownership hopes for many.

Housing prices in Utah have risen faster than almost anywhere in the country for a generation and the trend seems likely to continue — even though household incomes are not keeping pace.

A preliminary study out Wednesday from the University of Utah’s Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute warned that rising interest rates on mortgages will reduce the number of people who can afford to buy a home and could keep lifting housing costs to a point where they hinder the Wasatch Front’s ability to compete with other metropolitan areas for desirable businesses.

“The median sales price of a home in Utah’s two largest metropolitan areas is already 20 percent higher than home prices in Boise, Las Vegas and Phoenix, three cities Utah competes with for new business expansions,” the report said. “The housing price gap with these cities makes Utah’s economic development efforts less competitive and the state less attractive as a business location.”

• Since 1991, Salt Lake County housing prices have increased 4.5 percent annually, compared with 1.5 percent nationally. At that rate, a home that cost $125,000 in ’91 was worth $393,000 last year in Salt Lake; but, nationwide, only would have climbed in value to $184,000.

• Compounded over 26 years, Utah’s housing price index has risen 276.1 percent, an amount exceeded only by Colorado (327 percent), Oregon (303 percent) and Montana (279 percent). The average increase nationally was 148.7 percent.

• When adjusted for inflation, the 3.32 percent jump in housing prices since 1991 has far outstripped the rise in household incomes, which amounted to just 0.36 percent.

• For decades, the state had seen the number of housing units built each year exceed the number of new households by about 10 percent. But since 2010, that ratio has been reversed, contributing to the housing shortage that has driven up prices.

• Those with lower income are 32 times more likely to face a “severe burden” to meet housing costs compared with Utahns who make more than the median income.

• Despite record construction in recent years, the housing shortage also is driving rental rates up at a 3.3 percent annual rate, compared with 2.7 percent nationally, once again having a disproportionately bigger impact on poorer people.

(Tyler Cobb | The Salt Lake Tribune) Construction crews work on the apartment buildings at the Hardware District in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2018.

“Over 125,000 households in Utah are currently facing severe housing cost burdens,” said the report, which was commissioned by the Salt Lake Chamber and written by institute senior fellow James Wood and senior research analyst Dejan Eskic. “An increase in rental rates threatens their economic well-being and increases their chances of eviction and homelessness.”

The threat also applies to would-be homeowners, especially since interest rates are rising after having been kept low following the Great Recession, which was triggered by the collapse of a “housing bubble.”

“Households near or below the median income face the greatest threat by far from rising home prices and rental rates,” the authors said. “These households include recently hired teachers, police officers, firefighters and nurses. For those in these occupations, two incomes and 10 years of job experience are necessary for home ownership.”

Interest rates at historically low levels the past few years have “concealed” the disparity between fast-rising housing prices and slower-growing household incomes. “But with such a large gap,” Wood and Eskic wrote, “it won’t take long, in an environment of higher interest rates, for the Utah housing markets to reach harmful levels of affordability that will exclude much larger numbers of households from home ownership.”

Chamber leaders asked the institute to produce the report, seeking a better understanding of Utah’s housing market and the affordability challenges it presents.

These preliminary results, released before the full report comes out in about a month, “validated our concerns about housing appreciation trends,” said Abby Osborne, the chamber’s vice president of government relations.

“This is probably the one topic that no one is talking about that is really our biggest economic threat,” she said, citing the report’s conclusion that the current pace of price increases would mean that 15 years from now, that home worth $125,000 in 1991 will have skyrocketed to $736,000 in value.

“We can’t continue to have economic success unless we address this,” Osborne said, adding the chamber intends to use study data to influence local governments to alleviate the situation with land-use policies that drive intelligent development patterns and affect overall housing prices.

“It’s all about choices, providing choices,” she said. “We need a balance of different types of housing, available for different levels of income, all across the valley, so that people have choices.”

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Delta Air Lines adds Texas route from Salt Lake City hub

Delta Air Lines regional jets are seen at Salt Lake City International Airport in November 2016.

(Photo: Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren, special for USA TODAY)

Delta Air Lines is adding a new option to Texas from its hub in Salt Lake City.

That will come Oct. 1, when Delta starts non-stop service to El Paso. The service will be operated by Delta Connection partner SkyWest, which will fly one daily round-trip flight between the cities on 76-seat Bombardier CRJ-900 regional jets. The planes include 12 first-class seats and 20 of Delta’s “Comfort+” extra-legroom seats.

TODAY IN THE SKY: Delta Air Lines adds cross-country Boston-Las Vegas route | New York LaGuardia: Delta adds Chattanooga route, drops Dayton

Salt Lake City will become the second destination for Delta in El Paso. The carrier already flies to its busiest hub in Atlanta, offering up to three round-trip flights a day from El Paso.

Delta says El Paso customers will be able to connect via Salt Lake City to about 90 destinations “across the Intermountain West, West Coast, Hawaii, Mexico, Canada and Europe.”

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Modern homes are burning faster, and this is why

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (News4Utah) – Nowadays, fewer homes catch fire than in the past. However, when they do, they burn hotter, faster and more dangerously than ever before. Modern structure fires burn eight times faster than fires in the past few decades.

Brady George, Battalion Chief for Salt Lake City Fire Department says, "What we’re finding is not so much that the fire itself has changed, it’s still the same complex chemical reaction, but the environment has changed significantly."

George continues to explain that the size of an average home has increased about 56% since the 1970s. In addition to that, there have been major changes to the way modern homes are constructed. In fact, George adds that the construction of two story homes has increased 142% in the last few decades, and open concept floor-plans have also seen a major spike in popularity.

“This creates an environment inside where the fire has much more space to grow," he explains.

The size and layout of homes are not the only factors. One of the largest components to the spread of modern fires is the fuel that now exists inside our homes.

“We’ve transitioned away from primarily organic materials, meaning wood, cotton, wool, furs, to much more synthetic or man-made materials," George says, “…These modern fuels have two to three times the amount of energy as their legacy counterparts.”

During a study by Underwriter Laboratories, two rooms were set ablaze and compared in a controlled setting. One is an environment filled with natural materials, like cotton and wood. The other shows an environment made primarily from synthetic materials. It takes three minutes and forty seconds for the room made of synthetic materials to become completely engulfed in flames — this is called flashover. The room made of natural materials, on the other hand, takes nearly 30 minutes for flashover to occur.

So why do we have these synthetic materials in our homes? Well, they’re much less costly than natural materials.

Battalion Chief Brady George has some tips to protect all of us from these modern fire hazards. The first is to always make sure you close the doors inside your home. Another tip is to make sure your smoke detectors are working and tested twice a year. To learn more about that, click here.

George adds, “Another, perhaps less palatable option, is to simply put less stuff in your home."

According to underwriters laboratories, we had about 17 minutes to escape after a smoke alarm went off in the past. Today, they say that time has dropped down to three to four minutes. To learn more about the close your door movement, click here.

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Shelter funding plan stripped of fee on cities lacking affordable housing

SALT LAKE CITY — After some final-hour negotiations, a bill that would have required cities lacking affordable housing to help pay for homeless shelters in other cities was drastically altered on the Senate floor Wednesday and got final approval from the House.

But it still accomplishes the same goal: funding half of the three new homeless resource centers’ annual operation costs. The bill now goes to Gov. Gary Herbert for consideration.

Before it was substituted, HB462 would have fined Utah cities and counties having less than a statewide average of affordable housing to help pay for the operations and maintenance of new homeless resource centers.

But it was changed Wednesday on the Senate floor to simply allocate $6.6 million from the state’s general fund, stripping from the bill the formula to pull sales tax dollars from cities based on population size and affordable housing stock. The House later Wednesday concurred with that change.

Initially, HB462 would have allocated $3.3 million a year in state money and capture another $3.3 million a year in sales tax revenue from cities and counties to help pay for ongoing operating costs of the three new homeless resource centers, estimated to be about $13 million a year. The nonprofit in charge of the facilities, Shelter the Homeless, would be required to fundraise for the rest.

Cities that currently host or are slated to host shelters — Salt Lake City, South Salt Lake, Midvale, Ogden and St. George — would have been exempt.

That form of the bill was meant to incentivize cities to contribute to affordable and low-income housing stock to prevent Utahns from becoming homeless, the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Steve Eliason, R-Sandy, has said.

Senate co-sponsor Sen. Todd Weiler, R-Woods Cross, said changes were made to address concerns with the bill.

"This is the compromise that has been struck," Weiler said.

Representatives from the Utah League of Cities and Towns opposed HB462, worried it would unfairly punish cities for a housing market failure and use city funds for privately run facilities.

"Cities should not have to pay for operation and maintenance of homeless resource centers or any type of nonprofit facilities, and we appreciate the Legislature recognizes that and changed HB462," said Cameron Diehl, the league’s executive director. "We also recognize cities have a part to play in addressing homelessness."

HB462 has been considered a must-pass bill among political heavyweights, including House Speaker Greg Hughes, R-Draper, who has called it "critical" to the efforts to reform the state’s homeless system.

Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams has also said he’d pull his support of the South Salt Lake center, currently slated for groundbreaking this spring, if a bill to help mitigate costs and impact of the shelters doesn’t pass.

Meanwhile Wednesday, another bill meant to mitigate the impact of the homeless resource centers by using city sales tax money to help pay for police and fire needs for host cities awaited action on the House floor.

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Two apartments, one car riddled with bullet holes in South Salt Lake

Two apartments, one car filled with bullet holes in South Salt Lake. (Photo: KUTV)

(KUTV) — Two apartments and a car were riddled with bullet holes after an individual fired shots in South Salt Lake early Monday morning.

Police responded to reports of gunshots shortly before 2:30 a.m. at the South Park Apartments, located at 2235 S. 440 East.

Authorities found as many as 8 shell casings at the scene. No injuries were reported.

Police are working to identify the gunman.

2News will continue to update this story as new information becomes available.

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