Growing Our Vibrant West Side | Reigning in the Cost to do Business
Creating a Small Business Friendly City | Making Downtown Inviting
Salt Lake City enjoys low unemployment, an economy that is rebounding, and the capital city is a good place to live and work, but we can be great. We are anticipating significant growth in the next 20-30 years and we must act now to adequately fund our current needs and plan for the increase in population, traffic, and infrastructure.
For the past decade, city residents have endured property tax increases, escalating fees for services and fines, and we’ve been unable to sustain any kind of economic development effort. We are also not keeping up with the expense of running our city. Basic infrastructure is in poor repair, and long-deferred maintenance projects are piling up. We’re borrowing on our future.
Under my leadership, Salt Lake City will be open and easy to work with; we will be your partner and advocate, not your adversary. I will establish a positive working relationship with the Governor’s Office of Economic Development (GOED) and the Economic Development Corporation of Utah (EDCU), two organizations that can help us take advantage of opportunities for good sustainable jobs by bringing companies into Salt Lake City that are complementary to our local economy. The current administration has not taken adequate advantage of these two State agencies and their resources.
I will build a strong Economic Development team, starting with a highly qualified and committed Economic Development Director. This role has been a revolving door for the past eight years and remains vacant today. We will have a team with diverse backgrounds and expertise in various aspects of our economy including small business, corporations, international trade, and cultural economies. The Economic Development team will work closely with the Redevelopment Agency and not at cross purposes.
I will plan for growth strategically and sustainably, with the input of the people who live here. Projects must be predictable and consistent with the city’s Master Plans and not on a case-by-case basis. Every corner of our community has opportunities that can be cultivated. Careful analysis and well-thought-out planning will prevent the undermining of commercial hubs in our city (e.g. the impact of Gateway on Trolley Square and that of City Creek on Gateway).
I will align Salt Lake City with the state’s focus on sustainable innovation clusters—aerospace, accelerators, renewable energy, financial services, technology and software, and life sciences—so that we benefit directly from the state’s economic development priorities and initiatives.
And I will partner with workforce development educators to create an educated workforce to fill the needs of existing, expanding, and new employers.
Our city has been focused on the Downtown and Sugarhouse neighborhoods, virtually ignoring our vibrant and multicultural west side. It is time to maximize opportunities for new growth on the city’s major corridors and west side neighborhoods by:
● Creating additional Redevelopment Agency Project Areas west of the freeway. The RDA’s nine project areas focus on Downtown and Sugar House projects. These must be expanded to west of I-15 and onto State Street south of 500 South and on Foothill Boulevard and where opportunities exist for community revitalization.
● Develop and enhance the Jordan River corridor through habitat restoration, natural open space, and compatible education, recreation, and infill development projects to make the Jordan River comparable to the Wasatch Mountains in its regional value and source of community pride.
● Identify and develop locations on the west side of the city for new business districts like those in the 9th & 9th and 15th & 15th areas.
● Prioritize transportation projects to the underserved west side like a North Temple to University of Utah route, expanded and better networked bus routes, earlier and later transit times, and enhanced rider amenities such as benches and shelters, and a North Temple TRAX line Park n’ Ride.
● Plan today so Salt Lake City can take full advantage of the vast opportunities offered by completion of the Mountain View Corridor.
Our business leaders, small business owners, and prospective business owners are drowning in fees and red tape. Since July of 2013, the city’s Consolidated Fee Schedule has been tied to the Consumer Price Index so the entire schedule of fees increases annually without justification or any action taken by the City Council. I will closely review our processes and fees:
● Conduct a full audit of all business fees
● Freeze annual, automatic fee increases.
● Eliminate the Employee Fee—a fee that charges employers in Salt Lake City for hiring an employee.
● Increase transparency around fees by publishing an annual list of changes to fees
● Fix impact fees--aligning impact fees with the actual increased costs of construction and not outmoded assumptions about development
● Reign in wasteful departmental expenses and redirect taxes already collected by businesses to better address capital improvements that serve our business nodes rather than raising impact fees.
● Consider further revisions to the impact fees that would include variable rates instead of a flat rate for all fees.
I have a strong vision for Salt Lake City that will foster a startup and small business friendly environment. Small business is an integral part of Salt Lake City, and the best way for the city to thrive is by working collaboratively with our small business community. Small business owners should feel the City is their partner and advocate and included in plans and projects that will affect them. I will eliminate unnecessary bureaucratic red tape that wastes their valuable resources and interferes with their ability to be successful. I will:
● Streamline our planning and zoning departments to ensure more efficient, effective, and customer service oriented approaches.
● Partner with local venture funds and accelerators to attract more seed and early stage funding to Salt Lake City, and curate employment centers that allow businesses to grow within the city rather than relocating to suburbs.
● Better align zoning codes for business districts with the flexible development tools long envisioned in our Master Plans.
● Create a collaborative relationship with co-working spaces and small business accelerator offices to drive innovation, partnership and commercialization through the five major business and entrepreneurship schools located in Salt Lake City--the University of Utah, Westminster College, Salt Lake Community College, BYU Salt Lake Center, and LDS Business College.
● Streamline and simplify the business license process.
I believe our downtown should have a pulse and a soulful feel to it that is a draw for people from all over the city, state, and around the world. My vision for Salt Lake is one that reflects our city's diverse population, rich cultural backgrounds and the 125+ languages spoken here.
We are gentrifying our city rather than diversifying it—a direction I intend to reverse. Our economic development plan will include projects that include a rich cultural mix of shopping experiences, ethnic restaurants, and diverse entertainment options. I will:
● Develop projects based on a balanced Transportation Master Plan that incorporates TRAX, bus service, bicycles, and automobiles, while serving the needs of seniors, people with disabilities, and pedestrians.
● Reassess parking fees, duration of metered time, and parking penalty fees.
○ During the last few years, the hourly fee doubled from $1 to $2 per hour and the hours of enforcement extended from 6 to 8 pm, doubling the minimum credit card charge from $1 to $2, so paying with a credit card you can never buy less than an hour of parking.
● Implement a quality-control program to monitor the performance of the parking meters.
● Redeploy police officers into neighborhoods and create a more visible downtown presence.
● Implement recommendations through zoning and incentives to create more family friendly housing options and amenities for those who are choosing more urban lifestyles.
● Implement inclusionary zoning and incentives to increase housing opportunities for our lowest income residents, creating better alternatives to living on the streets.