Skip to comments.(Salt Lake City) Mayor to Float Plaza Plan
Posted on 12/06/2002 11:21:30 AM PST by Utah Girl
Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson will release his much-awaited proposed solution for the Main Street Plaza dilemma today.
While he won't divulge the proposal until 3 p.m., he acknowledged Thursday it doesn't satisfy the LDS Church, which is still calling for the city to relinquish its easement through the property and is placing its hope for a resolution with the U.S. Supreme Court or the City Council, which believes it can get rid of the easement.
"We've been working to the point of exhaustion on a proposal that I believed would bring everybody together and put this matter behind us," Anderson said. "I'm vastly disappointed that I won't be joined tomorrow by representatives of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints."
The Salt Lake Tribune has learned a part of the mayor's proposal is a definition of the easement's location, which was never outlined when the church and city negotiated the sale of Main Street between North Temple and South Temple in 1999. It appears the easement -- which is the public's right of way through the church-owned plaza and would be open to some free speech activities -- will run on the outside edges of the plaza, where traditional public sidewalks would go. Many people assumed all along those walkways on the east and west edges were the easement.
The proposal would leave the church in complete control of the center of the plaza, including the reflecting pool and seating area.
Anderson will also announce constitutional restrictions on free speech -- so-called time, place and manner regulations -- for the easement. The city may have found a way to prohibit demonstrations there, though it would probably have to allow people to pass out pamphlets.
Expectations for Anderson's announcement were high. The mayor had previously said his proposal would satisfy the LDS Church and civil libertarians. And the news release announcing today's news media conference says the proposition will "both protect the rights and interests of the public, and help create a peaceful atmosphere on the Main Street Plaza."
The mayor said he shared his plan with LDS Church officials but would not say what they said. Church spokesman Dale Bills said: "We have received Mayor Anderson's proposal and are reviewing it."
A church attorney called again Thursday for the city to give up the easement. "The simplest way to resolve this issue is for the church to provide 24-hour-a-day, 7-days-a-week access and the city to relinquish the easement so the church can control its property," said Alan Sullivan.
He said the church is hopeful council members will come to a resolution after they meet on Tuesday with former Mayor Deedee Corradini, LDS Presiding Bishop H. David Burton and others involved in the Main Street sale. The council will hold the "fact-finding hearing" at 5:30 p.m. to discuss the church and city's original intent. Church officials and some former city leaders say they always intended for the church to control behavior and speech on its plaza. The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled the restrictions were unconstitutional because of the city's easement.
Anderson said he will not give up the easement. He suggested again that the church and city go to state court to resolve questions surrounding the easement and the severability clause. The mayor says the clause means that since the restrictions were held unconstitutional, the easement remains and is open to the First Amendment. The church disagrees.
Sullivan said the church isn't interested in going to court about the severability clause.
"The parties are still talking. Really, another lawsuit doesn't solve anything."
And one last comment from me. The Church Administration block has been open to the public for decades, and has allowed access through that area. The Main Street Plaza would be the same, allowing the public to walk through the area without a public easement. I do not understand why this is such a big issue with Rocky Anderson.
A CRITIQUE OF THE MAYOR'S PROPOSED TIME, PLACE AND MANNER RESTRICTIONS
Letter to Mayor Anderson from H. David Burton, Presiding Bishop
December 6, 2002
To: Honorable Ross C. "Rocky" Anderson, Mayor; David Buhler, Chairman; Carlton J. Christensen, Vice-Chairman; Van Blair Turner; K. Eric Jergensen; Nancy Saxton; Jill Remington Love; and Dale Lambert
VIA HAND DELIVERY
City & County Building
451 South State Street, Rooms 304 & 306
Salt Lake City, Utah 84111
Dear Mayor Anderson and Council Members:
This community needs your help. There is no question that the segment of Main Street sold to the Church for more than $8 million and developed by the Church into a beautiful mall connecting Temple Square and the Church administrative complex has become something neither the Church nor the city contemplated when they entered into the transaction in April 1999. Instead of a place of peace, the plaza has become a source of controversy and contention.
Ironically, the parties intended just the opposite. They wanted the plaza to be a beautiful place of quietude and contemplation, truly an oasis in the midst of a bustling city. What was intended as an enhancement of the quiet splendor of the Salt Lake Temple has now become a platform for hecklers harassing those visiting the temple, including young couples going there to be married, and a haven for others distributing anti-Church literature, "buttonholing" visitors or simply panhandling. Such behavior undermines the purpose of the plaza in direct contradiction of what the parties intended.
Mayor Anderson has now proposed an ordinance that would regulate the "time, place and manner" of such behavior on the easement. We believe that the Mayor's plan would lead to more - not less - controversy. Essentially, his proposal would codify the very activities on the plaza that the Church finds objectionable. Not only does it expressly permit organized protests and demonstrations in "bull pen" areas at either end of the plaza, but the ordinance also would allow all other forms of speech activity normally permitted on a public sidewalk on the rest of the easement. Sign-carrying, soliciting, street-preaching and even heckling would be permissible along the length and breadth of the easement, provided these activities remained within certain noise levels, did not obstruct the flow of foot traffic and complied with other ordinances regulating speech activities on a city sidewalk. And, realistically, how would these regulations governing an easement across the Church's property be enforced without a constant police presence, not to mention the continuing specter of potential disagreements between Church and city officials over the interpretation of the ordinance? This ordinance carries the seeds of ongoing confrontation, argument and strife - the very antithesis of the plaza. Such a pathway of controversy cannot be the road to peace.
We respectfully submit that there is a way to resolve this perplexing problem: The easement must be extinguished. The Church remains committed to working with the city to find a solution that assures public access to the plaza while keeping it free of contention. In point of fact, the Church has always intended that there be open public access to the plaza - with or without an "easement." As an additional gesture of good will, the Church is willing to agree that there will be no organized missionary proselyting on the plaza. It would be a quiet, welcoming sanctuary to all wishing to savor its serenity.
This matter is a community issue, and it deserves to be resolved by the community. The Church pledges its best efforts to finding such a resolution and invites you, as the elected representatives of the people of this community, to link arms with it in doing so. As always, we express our great appreciation to each and all of you for the service that you render.
H. David Burton
Church Plaza protestors (video clips)
Plaza Incidents Report from Nov 27, 2002 to Nov 30, 2002
Sounds bites from Alan Sullivan, the LDS church's attorney
And send these disrupters packing!
I guess that you'd have to build some kind of underpass or overpass to get across. Maybe an escalator to the second floor of the building across the street.
What do you all think?
"No one gets 100 percent of what they want," says Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson.
The mayor's proposal aims at severely limiting the possibility of public disturbance on the plaza, but it does not give complete control over the street to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
And because of that, it seems to be drawing mixed reviews.
Simply stated, the mayor's plan gives the LDS Church 90 percent of the easement on the Main Street Plaza.
But he also proposed that the sidewalk farthest from Temple Square be a public easement, which includes group gathering areas where protests would be allowed.
But tonight, the LDS Church says, no deal.
Optimists might see the mayor's annoucment as an opening to resolve the bruising fight over Main Street.
But the reality is, tonight there's no compromise.
Anderson began his much-awaited proposal by praising the "spirit of generosity" of the LDS Church, and offering an olive branch.
"These have been an incredibly difficult six weeks, with much misunderstanding and far too much divisiveness. For any role I have played in that, I apologize," Anderson says.
He says the original deal between the city and the LDS Church never specifically defined what the "easement" is.
So he proposes a walkway about the size of a normal sidewalk along the entire east side of the plaza.
"With the definition of the easement, the Church of Jesus Christ will have free and clear title to the vast majority of the plaza, approximately 90 percent, and will have the ability to regulate conduct just as any private property owner would on its own property," Anderson says.
On the north and south ends of the easement, the mayor proposes small protest zones where groups can gather. People could still pass out literature in the rest of the plaza, as long as they abide by noise and disturbance regulations.
Anderson believes his plan gives both the city and the LDS Church almost all of what they bargained for back in 1999, when the deal was made.
After hearing the mayor's proposal, the two primary antagonists had decidely different reactions.
"I'm confident that through the public process, it's possible to end up with regulations that everyone can agree on. I'm afraid we're headed back to court," says Stephen Clark, attorney for the ACLU.
"The city has a legitimate expectation that the public has a right to enter the property and pass over it and make use of it. We don't think the parties intended for there to be protesters, hecklers. The deal would not have gone forward if that had not been the case," says Alan Sullivan, attorney for the LDS Church.
On Tuesday, a meeting will be held by the Salt Lake City Council, designed to explore the original intent of the parties in the deal.
Then there will be a chance for the public to weigh in. That date is Tuesday, December 17.
There has also been a lot of discussion behind the scenes about the plaza between the mayor and LDS Church leaders. KSL interviewed the man who has been the go-between for both parties, Utah businessman Jon Huntsman Sr.
Anderson and Huntsman have been friends for a long time, and have worked on various projects together.
For the past week or so, Huntsman has been going back and forth between the mayor's office and the LDS Church Office Building, playing the role of "mediator."
This afternoon, he attended a meeting with the LDS Church First Presidency, then met with Mayor Anderson before the mayor held his news conference.
Huntsman declined an on-camera interview, but he told the Deseret News that he's been working almost around the clock trying to come up with a resolution.
He is optimistic, telling newspaper reporters, "We're going to work this thing through and it's going to work out fine for everybody."
Huntsman did tell us that both sides had made some concessions, but for now, there is still no conclusion to the dilemma. No word either on whether Mr. Huntsman has more meetings planned.
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