RD’s Moab City Council Meeting Preview 2021-01-12

[Editor’s note: Both Rani Derasary and Mike Duncan have graciously agreed to let MADAR reuse their regular email updates to constituents. Despite the overlap, we are running both versions of the MCC previews. Readers can choose to read both, either or neither of the previews.]

Our next City Council meeting is this coming Tuesday, January 12. Below are details on the agenda for that meeting, plus some COVID-19 items that may be of interest.

Tuesday, January 12 City Council meeting – 6:30pm workshop + 7:00pm main meeting – online only. **As a reminder of how/why we’re meeting electronically, the agenda notes “Consistent with provisions of the Utah Open and Public Meetings Act, Utah Code Ann. § 54-2-207(4), the Moab City Council Chair has issued written determinations supporting the decision to convene electronic meetings of the Council without a physical anchor location. Due to the health and safety risks related to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and considering public health orders limiting in-person gatherings, the Moab City Council will continue to hold meetings by electronic means.” 

The public is invited and encouraged to view the Council’s meetings live (or after the fact) on the City’s YouTube channel here: https://www.youtube.com/MoabCityGovernment.

Citizens to be Heard options: The public can call in to our January 12 meeting, participate via Zoom, or submit written comments on any topic. Please note that if you’re calling or zooming in, you’ll want to do so at 7:00pm on Jan 12, as Citizens to be Heard is now at the beginning of our main meeting agenda. Use the link and/or phone number shown on the agenda here: https://moabcity.org/AgendaCenter/ViewFile/Agenda/_01122021-998. If you’d like to submit written comments instead, please fill out the form here before 7:00pm on Jan 12: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSctVokQ-Lj1eMAGSn1ZK1NhSlq0nEEKm-CpgSuUCswPpUOjQw/viewform?gxids=7628.

The 41-page packet for Jan 12 can be found here: https://moabcity.org/AgendaCenter/ViewFile/Agenda/_01122021-998?packet=true. If you prefer the 2-page agenda only, with links to packet parts, that is here: https://moabcity.org/AgendaCenter/ViewFile/Agenda/_01122021-998

Here is a breakdown of what’s on the Jan 12 agenda:

6:30pm workshop presentation

  • Moab Area Travel Council Update. There are no pages in our packet to go with this item, but presumably the Travel Council will be bringing Council up to speed on their current work and priorities. 

7:00pm Main meeting

  • COVID-19 Updates. There are no pages in our packet for this item, but often City staff, the Mayor and/or Southeast Utah Health Department (SEUHD) or Moab Regional Hospital (MRH) staff offer an update with the latest information on the pandemic, as well as an opportunity for Council to ask related questions. FYI I recently asked SEUHD and MRH staff more questions about COVID-19. Those Q&A are at the bottom of this post.
  • Walnut Lane update. Page 3 of our packet explains that Senior Project Manager Kaitlin Myers will be reporting to Council on: the status of the first 8 new units planned at Walnut Lane; public outreach in the works to Walnut Lane residents and neighbors, including an effort to get feedback on project amenities and aesthetics; the preliminary site plan application and final site plan for Phase 1; and minor code amendments to the PAD and WAHOO ordinances under consideration primarily to clarify existing code language.
  • Buy Local Bucks update. There are no pages on this item in our packet, but I expect staff will update us on how it is going and how many coupons have been redeemed to date. As a reminder, you can read about this program on the City web site here: https://moabcity.org/566/Moab-Buy-Local-Bucks.
  • Finance Department update. There are no pages in the packet for this item either, but Finance Director Klint York will likely update Council on sales tax and meeting scheduling for drafting our next City budget. 
  • Grand County School District presentation. There are no pages in our packet for this item, but it looks like the District will be updating the Council on their work. These presentations are usually 10 minutes long.
  • Proclamation of January 18, 2021 as Martin Luther King Jr. Day in the City of Moab. You can read this proclamation on page 14 of our packet.
  • Discussion of changes to the land use provisions of the Moab Municipal Code (MMC) relating to all-terrain vehicles (ATVs). As a reminder, Moab City and Grand County adopted a resolution related to ATVs in October 2020 (packet pages 19-24) doing 3 things: a) formally initiating proceedings to amend those portions of our respective municipal and land use codes “permitting vehicle sales, rentals, or leasing, commercial outdoor recreation uses, and outfitter, guide services and facilities”; b) imposing a temporary moratorium on issuing new business licenses for the sale, rental, or leasing of ATVs, commercial outdoor recreation uses involving an ATV, and ATV outfitting, guiding and touring; and c) imposing a temporary moratorium on issuing new special events permits for ATV vendors, associations, and groups.
    • On January 12, City staff are asking the Council to discuss, clarify and offer direction on several aspects of this work. The agenda summary on pages 15-18 lays out: how adopting a Temporary Land Use Ordinance moving forward would impact future site plan applications for new ATV businesses; the need to add/amend definitions in our code to be consistent with the State’s (eg “ATV rental,” “Outfitter,” “Guide Services”); the need to amend each zoning district to eliminate ATV rentals, outfitters and guide services as a permitted use; understanding the non-conforming uses and limitations for businesses that could result from that; the option of continuing to allow ATV rentals, outfitters and guides as a permissible use in applicable zones with the addition of special conditions or regulations; need for clarity on whether modified Jeeps are included in the moratorium on new business licenses as they are defined as Type III ATVs in State code; the need for clarity on fleet expansion; a staff recommendation that the City require fleet inventory information when issuing or renewing a license for the sale, rental or leasing of ATVs and ATV outfitting, guiding and touring. Additional related code on temporary land use regulations and non-confirming uses is on packet pages 25-33.
  • A letter from the Moab City Council in support of President-Elect Biden prioritizing an action to restore the Bears Ears National Monument to its original size as created by President Obama’s administration in Proclamation 9558 in 2016. This is on our agenda as a briefing and possible action; Council will vote on January 12 on whether to authorize the Mayor to send the letter on packet page 35. As noted in the summary on page 34, the Trump Administration reduced the Monument’s size by 85% in 2017.
  • A letter from the Moab City Council in support of the San Juan County Commission in its denial of the requested special event permit for the 2021 Rally on the Rocks trade show. You can read this letter and the associated agenda summary on pages 36-37 of our packet. Council will be briefed on this letter and we are being asked to vote to have the Mayor send it.
    • FYI the Grand County Commission voted in December 2020 to turn down Rally on the Rocks’ special event permit. The event organizer subsequently approached the San Juan Commission about leasing county-owned land in Spanish Valley for the event’s trade show, and that was denied on January 5. In my understanding, this letter expresses the City Council’s appreciation of San Juan’s solidarity with Grand County. If the San Juan Commission had opted to lease Spanish Valley land to the trade show, City and Grand County residents would likely have experienced most of the same noise impacts associated with this event they have been complaining about for years.
  • Proposed Resolution 01-2021: a resolution memorializing the designation of Council members and Staff as liaisons to various community boards and organizations. Each January, the City Council reviews which Council members and staff have been serving on various community boards and committees, and makes any needed changes. This is on our agenda as a briefing and possible action, and covered on packet pages 38-40.
  • Appointment of the 2021 Mayor Pro Tem. There are no pages in our packet about this, but FYI each January the Mayor assigns a Council member as Mayor Pro Tem to fill in for the Mayor when the Mayor cannot attend certain meetings and functions.
  • Appointment of the Council member responsible for reviewing the City’s bills in 2021. As with the previous item, each January the Mayor assigns one Council member to review the City bills.

That’s it for our January 12 City Council meeting, except: aside from what’s listed above, the meeting will contain standard items such as: reports from the Council, Mayor and City Manager; approval of minutes – this time for December 8 (covered on pages 4-9 of our packet), December 16 (pages 10-11), and December 18 (pages 12-13); and payment of the bills. 

Miscellaneous COVID-19 items

SEUHD COVID-19 Vaccine Information page. If you haven’t been on the SEUHD web site recently, please check out their vaccine information page here: https://www.seuhealth.com/covid-vaccine. A few things about this: As you will see, SEUHD is working on starting to schedule individuals over 70 years of age for COVID-19 vaccinations. Please read this page as it has good information on what to expect at your appointment, plus the information sheet they’ll want you to print, fill out and bring with you. – That said, please note that I did hit the link to the “vaccine scheduler” to see where it goes (it goes here: https://www.seuhealth.com/vaccine-schedulingand currently that page gives you the message “ATTENTION: At this time all available appointments have been scheduled. As we receive more vaccine, we will add more appointments to the schedule. Please check back later for availability.” I’m not entirely sure if this might change tomorrow (Monday), as I know SEUHD was working on their web site (see below), so I’d recommend re-checking the site in the coming days. – I’m sure SEUHD will be posting more updates. I also noted that you can sign up for vaccine updates here: https://www.seuhealth.com/covid-vaccine (scroll down to get to form section). – In the meantime, the following January 8 email from SEUHD Director Bradford may shed some more light on vaccine availability. (I got this information via the EMS Special Service District, which I sit on the board of, and checked with Bradford to make sure it’s ok to share. Given the pace of info changing, I imagine some details below may have already changed, so just keep that in mind. As of January 8, Bradford noted:

  • “The Governor just announced that vaccines will be available for the 70+ age group starting January 18th. There are few key points you all need to know:
    • 1.       We do not have nearly enough vaccines to handle the demand and it will take 6-8 weeks (or more) before we have enough to vaccinate those that want it.
    • 2.       Scheduling will take place on our website. We hope to have that up by this afternoon but it should be live before Monday. 
    • 3.       If someone calls in and can’t navigate the website, whoever is on the phone with that person can navigate it for them (put in their information and make the schedule). 
    • 4.       If people inquire, please indicate that we are moving forward based on new information to us and the most up to date info will be on our website. 
    • 5.       We will not be doing mobile clinics for the foreseeable future (apart from some schools). We have been instructed to do as many vaccines as possible in the time allotted. This is most efficiently done in a mass vaccination setting. 
    • 6.       We are still working with schools, but their populations will take longer to vaccinate than anticipated due to this announcement. 
    • 7.       The 70+ population in our 3 counties is about 4000 people. The school district population is about 1400. Not all want to be vaccinated but right now we receive 300 vaccines per week – at 60% acceptance rate it’ll take 10-11 weeks to move this through this entire population.

Things are progressing rapidly and we’ll be as flexible as we can moving forward.”

COVID-19 questions I recently posed to SEUHD Director Bradon Bradford & MRH CEO Jen Sadoff that may interest you. In early January I sent Bradford & Sadoff a number of questions I have both as an individual resident in Grand County, and a City Council member. Here are my questions and their responses, should they be useful to you. And thanks again for putting up with my incessant questions Jen and Bradon!

Q: Thanks for the sites you sent me recently Bradon to better understand vaccine rollout (https://coronavirus.utah.gov/vaccine/ and Utah COVID-19 Vaccination Plan). There’s so much good info there including the distribution page. I know we’re all dealing with rapidly changing info, and see that most groups at this point are contacting their employer or the local health department for vaccine scheduling. As we move one, are there any other sites locally that you guys recommend Grand County residents monitor to know when their opportunity for the vaccine approaches?

Bradford: Our site and social media, newspaper, radio will be the methods that we use to get out information. We’re going to continue to figure out what other avenues will be effective in disseminating information and suggestions are welcome.

Sadoff: MRH will be sharing all information available- I would encourage them to monitor MRH – our Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/MoabRegionalHospital  or our Covid Information webpage: https://mrhmoab.org/covid-19-information/

Q: Several folks have asked me about food service workers. I think the last I read was that people serving in say hospitals or care centers (schools too maybe?) would qualify earlier for the vaccine, but that Utah as a State instead of categorizing other food industry staff (eg grocery store staff, restaurant workers etc) a separate priority group, was likely going to focus on age, so if you are in food service and over 75, you’d get the vaccine sooner than a colleague who’s younger. That sound right? 

Bradford: That is correct. Once we’re through with K-12 employees, it will be based on age group (at least that’s the plan today).

Sadoff: Food service workers who are working in healthcare are being offered the vaccine during this first round. 

Q: Given last year’s wildfire activity in the Intermountain West, and Moab’s number of interagency firefighters, do we know when they might be eligible to be vaccinated? Do they all go through their employers for info on that? (I know some are Federal employees v State.) I wasn’t sure if they were included in the “non-EMS first responders” on https://coronavirus.utah.gov/vaccine-distribution/ since they’re a bit different from urban firefighters.

Bradford: Firefighters of all types are eligible in this initial wave, we hope to get through them in the next two weeks. 

Sadoff: The Health Department is handling these vaccinations. 

Q: I appreciated the Hospital Facebook posts about staff getting vaccinated – yay! When can SEUHD staff get vaccinated Bradon, or were you already? Is there a running list for Grand County or the SEUHD region where I can send colleagues/residents to see how many vaccinations we’ve done to date on any given day/week in different sectors of the community? (Didn’t know eg if there was a shareable spreadsheet showing number of healthcare workers vaccinated, number of first responders, and eventually number of long-term care residents, teachers etc etc.) Thanks! I know EMS staff were lucky enough to get the vaccine recently, and imagine it boosts excitement and reassurance for the majority in our community to know how we’re advancing in vaccine numbers toward that 80% goal over time.

Bradford: Our staff have been vaccinated (in preparation for the vaccine work we’ll be doing). We’re working on putting vaccine distribution updates on our website. As of now we’ve had 700 doses delivered and expect 550-600 will be administered by the end of the week (it sounds counterintuitive but we administer more vaccines if we always have some in stock instead of running out every week).  

Q: Given privacy issues, this may be a dumb question, but: will residents eg have access to info on which care providers (at hospital, clinics, dentist and optometry offices etc) have been vaccinated? Didn’t know if that’s private or public info, but I suspect knowing who’s been vaccinated, once we reach that point, might inform some consumer choices if it’s public info.

Bradford: They might make their own decision about posting that information, but SEUHD can’t do that.

Sadoff: We anticipate 100% of our providers at MRH will choose to receive the Covid-19 vaccine.  I would encourage people to reach out to their provider’s office if they are interested in their Covid-19 vaccination status.

Q: Early on we were hearing that it might be recommended that folks with a history of anaphylaxis speak to a physician before getting a COVID-19 vaccination. That still the prevailing advice? Is this more a concern with one vaccine manufacturer than another? Is there any added info there you’d like to pass on?

Bradford: That is still the case and applies to both vaccines. Thus far we’ve only had two mild reactions (rash), it seems to be received well.

Sadoff: Excellent information is available at this CDC site:  https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/safety/allergic-reaction.html

Q: A lot of us are confused about the vaccine supply. I do my best to read media articles on this, but the explanations do seem contradictory. Do we feel good about Utah and Grand County’s vaccine volume access, or are we getting less than we were promised? If the latter, do you take that to be a supply chain issue, a logistics issue in delivery from the federal or state end, a shortage of trained people to actually administer the vaccine, or something else? 

Bradford: We need more vaccine, but everyone does. I know we’re a lot more effective at the health department for these types of situations if we can ramp up for a few days and administer 2000 doses instead of being kind of ramped up every day administering 50 doses. We’ve been receiving 200/week and that will be the case next week. We’ll then receive 300 and 400 the weeks after that but it will still take a while to get through the K-12 population of 3 counties with those numbers.

Sadoff: We were pleased with the amount we received at MRH for people working in healthcare settings.  We have reached 60% vaccination rate at Moab Regional Hospital, and we anticipate reaching 75% by the end of the week.  Any remaining vaccine doses we have remaining will be dispensed according to the Utah Department of Health’s distribution plan. While the Health Department is the lead on vaccine distribution, we are committed to giving them any support that they need, including offering trained personnel.

Q: A colleague mentioned getting a rapid test this past week in Moab from an outfit who’s apparently been coming to Moab 2x a week with a mobile testing unit; I think it was TestUtah.com, but I may have my names confused. Are you aware of TestUtah/someone else doing this in Moab 2 days/week of late? If it’s happening, do we know if it’s being advertised somewhere, whom it’s intended for, if it’s free, and whom to contact? Is it a resource I should be making residents aware of in addition to the hospital’s testing / COVID line? 

Bradford: TestUtah is free and will be around a lot more. I generally know the dates a little bit ahead of time but haven’t been focused on that. We’ve tried to post on our Facebook page when they’re coming. They mostly conduct rapid tests now and they’re free and open to anyone. 

Sadoff: I think that the Free Health Clinic may be working with TestUtah, but I don’t know for certain or have any specifics.

COVID-19 latest numbers locally.Per the Southeast Utah Health Department (SEUHD) web site tonight, Grand County has now had a total of 494 positive COVID-19 cases since the pandemic began, 60 of which are active. 4 of these individuals are currently hospitalized. There were 445 positive cases when I last wrote you on January 2, so that’s 49 more positive cases over these last 8 days. Grand County’s average percent positive tests over the past week is nearly 21%, and the number of active cases per 100,000 people is 614.5. Please visit https://www.seuhealth.com/covid-19 for more detail. 

That’s it for the moment. Please let me know if you have any questions. There is so much information here; I apologize should there be any errors given my eager haste in transferring it!

Rani Derasary, Moab City Councilmember