MD’s Moab City Council Meeting Preview 2021-04-27

[Editor’s note: Both Mike Duncan and Rani Derasary 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.]?

You can write City Council (anytime, on any subject):

Pre-Council Workshop – 6:00 p.m. – Noise ordinance

City Attorney Laurie Simonson has updated the city’s proposed noise ordinance from its initial draft form to the version that she’ll present at this meeting. While it covers a variety of noise pollution sources that were already on the books even if not often enforced, our main interest is vehicle noise, in particular OHV / UTV / ATV / side-by-side vehicles. The city’s version is quite similar to the county’s as requested by local OHV businesses: the same dB limits, pass-by and stationary specifications and day vs night limits. We’ll possibly vote on the matter later in this meeting.

Regular session starts at 7 PM:

It’s going to be a long night. You can see, more than ever, for better or worse, Moab is no longer something Ed Abbey would recognize. Wanna run for City Council? It’ll be interesting. Beats playing Sudoku. And it matters.

Citizens to Be Heard. You may use CTBH to comment on any subject. We are receiving public comments by phone and online through Zoom. Citizens are limited to two (2) minutes for comments.  Dial: 669-900-9128     Meeting ID:  882 7674 8859 Passcode (if needed):  023843. Link:

Please note that when joining the meeting, you will be placed in a waiting room and will be added to the meeting by the moderator. Your comments will be recorded and on YouTube. If you’re youtube’ing, be aware this stream can be seconds or minutes behind real time. This is a big source of confusion if you’re also doing CTBH via Zoom, which is real time!

To have your written comments considered for the Citizens to Be Heard portion of the electronic meeting, please fill out the form found here: You must submit your comments by 7:00 PM on the date of the meeting. Please limit your comments to 400 words.

Staff reports: (Expect 15-30 minutes…)

  • City Manager Updates
  • COVID-19 Updates
  • Briefing on City’s fire restrictions (burn ban and fireworks)

Mayor and Council reports: (These (6) reports typically take at least 20 minutes…)

Approval of Minutes (brief)

Noise Ordinance. This is the formal vote (if we elect to do so) following the Workshop earlier in this meeting.

Ranked Choice Voting. I’m guessing most folks, including myself, like the concept of RCV because it voids the need for a primary, and further candidates tend to focus more strongly on the things they have in common with their competitors, even if it does not often change the actual outcome of an election. Utah County presented to Council and Staff how RCV works, together with costs. Grand County has so far elected to not get involved, so that Utah County would conduct the election. It is for the most part identical to plurality elections with one additional step at the end. It’s not yet clear how much extra (compared to the usual plurality system) RCV would cost the city, which is struggling to do many necessary things with not enough revenue. If we don’t go with RCV at this time, it will probably be for cost reasons.

Covid Local Emergency Proclamation for Restaurants Extension. This order extends a requirement for 6’ distancing at restaurants. Also, at the Mayor’s recommendation, Council will continue to do the Zoom thing, but hopefully not much longer. Get vaccinated. Now.

City of Moab Tentative Budget for Fiscal Year 2021-2022. Staff has presented tentative budgets several times to Council so far this year. This motion sets the stage for a public hearing 5/11. Sewer shortfall (can kicked down the road too many years, big loan for the Water Reclamation Facility to be repaid in the next 10 years or so) is the ugly one, and one that has to be funded with user fees (and not by sales nor property taxes) by law. One downside of no new hotels lately is no new impact fees have been assessed, the biggest source (besides fees) of revenue. Think of this as a Quality of Life trade – most people wouldn’t mind never seeing a new hotel ever in Moab, but it does help pay the bills. Cities often wire in future (commercial) growth to pay present bills, a sort of Faustian bargain, particularly in a resort town where we sell and enjoy a rural aesthetic. Without it, the costs come more heavily out of our pockets.

Housekeeping Amendments for Special Event and Street Performer Permits. In 2019, Council amended city code to permit alcoholic beverages at certain Special Events at City venues. Since then, administrative rules and city code has changed both at the state and local level. This ordinance brings everything up to snuff without changing anything of substance. I want to thank City Attorney Laurie Simonson for putting all this together, sort of like creating a doll with all body parts present out of the refuse of an explosion at a doll house. I don’t have the patience, but she does.

Proposed Moab Transit Service Alternatives. In 2018, the Moab area received a “Recreation Hotspot” grant from UDOT, and in the fall of 2020, the Arches Hotspot Region Coordinating Committee recommended that $1.5 million of the Hotspot grant be allocated to launch a pilot transit or shuttle solution. The $1.5 million would fund the first three years of operations, and the local Moab community (the City and Grand County) would be required to fund an additional $1 million for years four and five of shuttle operations. Jason Miller of Fehr and Peers will be presenting three alternatives to the Council. The buses are on a fixed route from roughly just N of the river to Spanish Trail Arena; the vans can deviate off-nominal route to suit:

  • Option 1 – one (20-25 passenger) bus + one (10-14 passenger) van
  • Option 2 – two buses
  • Option 3 – two vans

All vehicles have to compete with auto traffic, notably on the congested N side of town.

E-bikes on City pathways. Assembled by City Attorney Laurie Simonson, these city code amendments remove e-bikes ( =< 750W, pedal assist, 20 MPH) from a list of otherwise prohibited “motorized” vehicles on city pathways. I’m trying to clarify what exactly “pathway” means, in particular hilly dirt paths in town and the paved pathway from Lion’s Park E of 191 up to Arches NP and beyond. The city can restrict qualified paths at its discretion for safety reasons.

Motorized Scooters. Bird Scooters has approached the City of Moab about entering into a temporary operating agreement, which will permit the company to launch a pilot program consisting of approximately 75 dockless scooters in the City, managed by a local “fleet manager.”

2021-2025 Capital Improvement Project List. Presented by City Chief Engineer Chuck Williams, this list (totaling $60M, yes, you read that right, $60M) is both a priority list and a wish list contingent on funding, including outside funding wherever we can find it. This stuff is a big reason we’re talking about a modest city property tax – stuff that needs to be done rather than kicking the can down the road. I’ve listed here just the first few top priority items:

  • Kane Creek Road Reconstruction $2,132,807
  • Walnut Lane Housing Phase 1 $10,000,000
  • 100 South Green Infrastructure Improvements Project $1,900,000
  • Crit. Cond. Birch Ave Sewer Project $165,876
  • Crit. Cond. 200 South Sewer Project $384,531 

Hope this helps,

Mike Duncan, City Council member