Division Updates – April 2023

April 3, 2023

Division of Consumer Protection

DCP hosted its first live streaming event. They talked about scams and what you can do to protect your loved ones at an “All Things Seniors” working group.

DCP also spoke with a delegation from the U.S. State Department’s International Visitor Leadership Program in March. Katie Hart talked about the Division’s role in enforcing consumer protection laws, how they cooperate with other branches of state government, and the importance of building public trust.

Office of the Property Rights Ombudsman

New Advisory Panel Process: In an attempt to resolve land use disputes faster, OPRO will be initiating a pilot Advisory Panel process. The Ombudsman currently issues written Advisory Opinions as a tool for resolving disputes over land use applications and impact fees. These Advisory Opinions are effective tools, but often take considerable time. OPRO recognizes that parties may also benefit from a forum that allows for more immediate legal feedback, even if it were less formal and less conclusive. As a result, and in cooperation with the development community, local government interests, and legal experts, OPRO is offering the Advisory Panel process.  Parties may submit a request, then appear before an advisory panel made up of an Ombudsman attorney as well as two neutral land use attorneys for immediate, informal feedback. The whole process should take about a week, which should keep development applications moving forward without considerable delay.

Busy March: Each year, as more people hear about the service OPRO provides, OPRO get more requests for help. This March they answered 151 general land use calls from property owners, lawyers, city staff, developers, council members, and planning commissioners (up roughly 20% from average). OPRO received twenty new requests for written Advisory Opinions and eminent domain mediations (up 40% from last year) and closed eleven files (nearly double last year). They also conducted land use training for the Utah Home Builders Association, the Introduction to Land Use & Agriculture class at Utah State University, and various training at multiple local agencies on land use legal-related topics including easements, code enforcement, zoning, and exactions.  OPRO issued two written Advisory Opinions including one which asked eight separate questions about whether various impact fees are legal and conducted three eminent domain mediations. OPRO appreciates the opportunity to serve the great state of Utah.

Margaret spoke on a panel at the FREE Forum hosted by AEI and The Sutherland Institute about rediscovering the dignity of work and providing opportunities for young Americans.

Margaret also at the Salt Lake City Lawyers Chapter of the Federalist Society about Utah’s approach to regulatory modernization.