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Monday, July 28, 2008

Why There is Conflict in Daybreak

Some years ago when I was in college I attended the opening night of a summer blockbuster movie. This movie was a sequel and my expectations for this movie were high. I thoroughly enjoyed watching the previous editions of the series and expected more of the same. I expected the same authenticity, quality acting, special effects, and intensity. My excitement increased as the time drew closer to opening day. I watched the teaser, the trailer, and I even found a segment on the internet about the show. But when the final credits to the movie started to roll down the screen I felt a little cheated. It seemed as though the image created by the previews of the movie did not hold up to what the movie actually delivered. My expectations were created by the previous movies and the previews and teasers that advertised the show.

I realized that the advertising material for the show promised me one thing, but the actual movie delivered something completely different. To my surprise I found that one of my friends absolutely loved the show. I asked him if he had seen the previews before the movie and he claimed that he had not. This made me think a little bit more about conflict and expectations. I found that any time that I was in disagreement with someone or something, I had differing expectations from what was delivered or what others expected me to deliver. I felt this was particularly true with people. I even found that one of my favorite authors had written about it: "Expectation is the root of all heartache." - William Shakespeare.

With this in mind I have come to the conclusion that differing expectations is at the heart of conflict between Kennecott Land and other parties. The large amount of stakeholders who have an interest in Daybreak almost dictates that there will be conflict. These stake holders include Rio Tinto and their shareholders, residents of Daybreak, future residents of Daybreak, the City of South Jordan, New Urbanists, the Daybreak HOA, future commercial and industrial tenants, Salt Lake County government, the State of Utah government, the Jordan School District, Utah Transit Authority, various home builders, various contractors, the immediate surrounding community, Envision Utah, Peter Calthorpe and Associates, and various others. Kennecott Land is trying accommodate or at the least liaise with all of these stakeholders. All of them have somewhat differing expectations. To add to the complexity, all of the expectations held by these stakeholders do not match the expectations of key decision makers within Kennecott Land and Rio Tinto. In my opinion expectations are never quite the same. However, closing the gap between these expectations leads to less conflict and Kennecott Land tries to do this every day. So how well has Kennecott Land been able to do this? Let's look at several examples.

While developing Daybreak, Kennecott Land has had to work with an assortment of municipalities for zoning and planning purposes. The City of South Jordan was approached with the Daybreak plan years ago. From what I have heard this relationship has gone fairly well except for the obvious clash with regards to the Boyer development. Again, I think that this was a major difference in expectations. Salt Lake County has also worked with Kennecott Land for a few years on the plan for the West Bench. In this case, a major difference in expectations has terminated the joint planning team that was working on the West Bench project. In an earlier post, I wrote that this disagreement was the result of a lack of communication and creative bargaining.

Local residents of Daybreak can also attest that they have had many expectations that Kennecott Land has not delivered. In fact a poll conducted on Daybreak indicates that about two-thirds of the homeowners in Daybreak are not satisfied with how Kennecott Land has addressed their concerns. The Beach Club on Oquirrh Lake was another one of those expectations. Residents still seem confused about the applicable laws that have blocked the fruition of the project. Essentially the project was put on the map of Daybreak and served as a teaser for future amenities. Another more recent point of conflict has been the landscaping of Founders Village. More conflict has recently come about the possible pool to be built in Founders Village as well. However, many of the expectations homeowners have been fulfilled and in some cases have been exceeded by Kennecott Land. Amenities that were never promised openly have popped up in Eastlake and expectations have been exceeded in a few other important areas.

One of the main reasons for these differing expectations is Kennecott Land ’s tendency to operate and develop plans with little or no dissemination of these plans to the community or residents. I can see why Kennecott operates this way as their business requires a certain amount of discretion, but this policy is the main reason why they have so many conflicts. If you ask the home builders of Kennecott Land’s plans they will tell you that they are likely the last people to know. Residents usually hear of changes and announcements through the community website (which is down right now) and newsletters, but as you can see with the conflicts above the communication is not thorough enough. In short, if Kennecott Land would like to ease some of the contentions inside and outside of the community they need to communicate their expectations more and solicit the specific expectations of various stakeholders. Residents and other stakeholders have expectations of the future of the Village Center , Oquirrh Lake , housing density, future amenities, and many other aspects of the community. While these expectations will never completely match, getting them as close as possible will lighten the friction between Kennecott Land and the various stakeholders of Daybreak.

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