“In time, we hate that which we often fear.”
— from “Antony and Cleopatra”, by William Shakespeare
Before I was beset by a string of bizarre injuries that have rendered my legs virtually useless for most of 2018, I used to enjoy taking my dog Cooper for a run in the Logan City park across the street from my house.
I would take “The Coop” for this run about 11 PM, which matters not since dogs are not allowed in the park day or night. I just admitted in this space that I break a city ordinance.
Come and get me, coppers!
Cooper is a mix of Dachshund and German Pinscher; the latter being a breed of dog that loves to run. It is for this reason that he has earned the nickname “The Brown Torpedo.”
Problem: Where can he run? Nearly all Logan City parks do not allow dogs to enter, even if leashed. It is a stifling, short-sighted rule.
It was under my opposition to this arcane edict that I was pleased to hear Logan Mayor Holly Daines propose that three new dog parks be designated. The new mayor understands something that many past elected officials in Logan were woefully ignorant of: people own dogs.
But this is Cache Valley. So, on cue, people complain that this sensible change is somehow the coming of a biblical apocalypse. As you may know, dogs like to defecate wherever and whenever the need arises. And since too many dog owners are dirtballs who do not clean up after their animals, the belief is that allowing dogs into parks would make those parks into a place that Donald Trump recently described Haiti as resembling.
This could happen. However, I see dogs in the park across the street from my home all the time. Most people just ignore the NO DOGS ALLOWED signs. My theory is that if people blatantly defy the city ordinance, then they probably do not care to clean up after their dogs. Break one rule, break them all.
Those who would be grateful for a place to bring their pooches would consider cleaning up after their dogs as necessary to keep this relaxing of the rules permanent. It’s a smart move to have dog-friendly parks.
It is nice to have city officials that come up with simple plans to drag Logan out of the 1950’s, kicking and screaming if necessary.
And that leads me to the second subject of this week’s thesis: high-density housing or, more to the point, the spurious fear that exists regarding apartment buildings in downtown Logan.
For nearly two years, some Logan residents who live close to downtown have—to a highly successful degree—impeded the building of apartment housing in the downtown area. Their myopic, selfish desire to “save” downtown would be valiant if not for one salient, undeniable fact.
Downtown Logan is a dead zone.
A town of Logan’s size should not be effectively dormant after 7 PM. Any area with spacious sidewalks, ample parking and tons of store space should be busy seven days a week, 52 weeks a year.
Logan has a social disease that makes it undesirable for nighttime activities and is flat out inhospitable to those have the audacity to want to eat and mingle on Sundays.
And beer drinkers? #worsethanhitler
How would high-density housing downtown help? To start, it would increase the number of people who are downtown. If people live in an area where eateries, entertainment, and other amenities are located, they will frequent those establishments.
If people live downtown, they use things that are downtown. They do not have to drive downtown. More housing does not have to be built in the sprawl of Cache Valley if you concentrate new abodes downtown. These new homes in the countryside add to the number of cars used on the roads, which makes our air worse and burdens our eroding infrastructure.
And if prospective business owners see a source of income in a burgeoning downtown area, empty storefronts come to life.This is how you revitalize an area in desperate need of a jolt. You offer things that people, specifically young people, will pay for. Econ 101.
But that may be the source of defiance. The residents that live near downtown who doth protest too much about progress may very well be older people who fear an influx of young people.
Consider the following line by a downtown resident who wrote a letter to a local news outlet protesting high-density housing:
“Don’t let all of the sacrifices of our town founders and settlers be in vain.”
That’s what it comes down to? Preserving a way of life that some moron believes has remained steady since 1859? I see a much more cynical meaning in such sentiments.
I think the residents that are the most vocal opponents of downtown apartments—a group I have personally nicknamed the “East Side Mafia”—are trying to maintain a Mormon-y feel to the demographics of those who reside in that area.
High-density housing would increase the number of Millenials that would live amongst those who trace their Cache Valley lineage all the way back to Brigham Young. Many of these younger folk are secular in thought. Hipsters, musicians, college students and artisans would be primary in this cadre of cool kids that would call downtown home.
Most of the young people that would live in these new apartments would have long hair, tattoos, nose piercings and a generally apathetic view towards Mormonism.
Old people fear what they do not understand.
My advice to Mayor Daines and the Logan City Council is simple. Ignore the East Side Mafia. No matter how many letters to the editor they write, or appearances they make at city meetings, or the proliferation of signage on their front lawns, ignore them! You may lose 100 votes, but you will take the first step into bringing downtown Logan back from the grave.
If you listed all the problems Logan has, neither dogs nor Hipsters would be on that list. If The Powers That Be who run Logan are smart, they’d do everything they can to make our town friendly to dog-owning Millennials. They are the future of this Cache Valley. Embrace them, and take their money.