improving our air quality | protecting our valuable water resources
Mountain accord | Advocating for wilderness across the state
Salt Lake City residents are lucky to have some of the best recreation opportunities in the country. We are home to hiking trails, bike paths, recreation areas, and our backyard has some of the greatest skiing on earth. Quality of life in Salt Lake City is measurably enhanced by our access to some of the most amazing landscapes in the nation.
Salt Lake City is consistently ranked among US cities with the worst air quality and it is now the number one concern of Salt Lake City residents. But this issue is not just a city problem, it reaches well beyond our borders and affects everyone living and working along the Wasatch Front.
There are days during the winter inversion when you can’t see the mountains on either side of the valley. I’ve heard from parents who are worried about the health of their children. I hear from our older residents and those with compromised health who are tired of being told they have to stay indoors. And I’m hearing from businesses who are concerned about the economic impact of our air.
It has reached a critical point and it is time for sustainable, long term solutions. Our approach must collaborative and regional in nature. It must also be multi-faceted to include vehicles, transportation systems, and construction and industry.
Creating Collaborative Wasatch Front Solutions
Air quality affects all of us, irrespective of city boundaries. It is imperative that we have a mayor who is committed to working with other Wasatch Front leaders, business owners and our state government to find solutions. As Mayor of Salt Lake, I will:
● Create a collaborative group of Wasatch Front mayors, business, and community leaders.
● Work with industry leaders to encourage adoption of air quality measures above and beyond requirements.
● Advocate for proactive regulations with the state legislature and Department of Air Quality (DAQ)
● Encourage expansion of a HIVE-like pass with other Wasatch Front cities to develop greater use by those commuting to jobs in the city, and work to make low-cost transit passes accessible to our small business community, currently not available through the EcoPass or Hive Pass programs.
Making the City an Air Quality Innovator
As the capital city, we should be leading the way in innovative ways to combat our poor air quality. As mayor, I will:
● In coordination with a citywide Economic Development Plan, focus strategic mixed-use development along public transit lines
● Work with businesses, cyclists, and residents to create a more standardize approach as we increase bike lanes to improve cyclist, vehicle, and pedestrian safety while ensuring accessibility for people with disabilities
● Develop a public information campaign to promote the HIVE pass and ensure its ongoing funding
● Connect neighborhoods via new and improved trails
● Clean up, revitalize, and restore the Jordan River corridor through habitat restoration, accessible nature parks, and outdoor education programs that bring this ecological gem on par with the beauty and ecological value of our mountains, canyons, and national forests
● Transition our parks and golf courses to secondary water and water-saving technologies
● Improve zoning and landscape ordinances in industrial zones to reduce the requirements for water-intensive sod, expand tree canopy coverage, and implement water-efficient landscape and irrigation systems.
Business and Economic Solutions
The business community is fast becoming a great partner for clean air. They recognize the negative impact our poor air has on recruiting and retaining employees and our tourism industry is feeling the effects as they market our city as a destination. As Mayor, I will:
● Implement and promote the Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy (C-PACE) financing program to commercial building owners city-wide, this state-wide legislation was approved by the Utah Legislature in 2013 as a financing mechanism for energy efficiency, renewable energy, and water conservation upgrades to buildings; it is the lowest hanging fruit, but has not yet been made available in Salt Lake City to hundreds of businesses
● Develop a comparable financing option like C-PACE for homeowners and small residential property owners, and work to adopt affordable financing and incentive programs for homeowners state-wide
● Establish green building incentives for new development, and retrofit and reconstruction projects
● Work with power providers to create a smart network with an interactive grid that can obtain energy from renewable sources during peak hours
● Advocate with our power providers for renewable solutions
● Create incentives for new enterprises in renewable energy equipment, device and technology development manufacturing; Utah is a leader in energy production, but Salt Lake City, with our abundant solar capability, and growing interest and demand, should be leading the U.S. in renewable energy development through partnerships with our higher education entrepreneurship and commercialization programs, local business accelerators, and our ready-for-market industrial, manufacturing, and international trade zones
● Incentivize developers to improve building efficiency and explore other market-based solutions to improve air quality and increase use of solar energy
Reduce the Impact of Vehicle Emissions
Vehicle tailpipe emissions are still the largest contributor to poor air quality, and with the growth expected in the region, we must do better. We have made little progress as a region with the development of better fuels, better vehicles, and better driving habits. As Mayor, I will:
● Work with a broad coalition of state and local government leaders to implement new Tier III fuels as soon as possible, which will reduce tailpipe emissions for every vehicle in the region. This will make a significant impact on vehicle emissions but we can do more.
● Cooperate with local auto dealers to improve marketing and incentive programs for zero-emission vehicles
● Expand the development of rapid-recharge stations for electrical vehicles, this was authorized by the City Council at the policy level over six years ago, but very little has happened to implement the deployment and proliferation of this infrastructure, which remains the greatest barrier to broad acceptance of electrical vehicles in our marketplace
● Improve basic bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure in neighborhood activity nodes beyond the Downtown and work more cooperatively with the County and neighboring municipalities to extend these systems beyond our city boundaries. Many of our local business nodes, schools, parks and recreation facilities are easily within walking distance, but lack basic infrastructure to make them accessible on foot or by bike
● In areas of new growth and development, particularly in the Northwest Quadrant, implement smart growth strategies to improve our subdivision ordinances, creating more walkable neighborhoods reminiscent of our great historic neighborhoods, and do a better job of planning for the integration of community services and facilities that are walkable and convenient to neighborhoods
Improve Transit Access and Convenience for City Residents and Businesses
We are moving toward a diverse transportation system inclusive of pedestrians, bicycles, automobiles, buses and trains. The City has benefited from many regional transit infrastructure improvements, which succeeded with improving transit ridership to major employment centers Downtown and at the University of Utah. Many of our neighborhoods, however, have seen reductions in service, connectivity, and convenience over the same period. We can reverse this trend to not only make transit a viable local option, but also better connect our residents and businesses across the region as well. As Mayor, I will:
● The Salt Lake City Council recently initiated a process to create a Transit Master Plan. With public input, I will prioritize completion and implementation of this plan, to createa better system for meeting our local transit needs and improving strategies for accessing our neighborhoods and community business districts.
● Coordinate the efforts of multiple transit agencies in Salt Lake City—UTA, school district, and University of Utah—to maximize the capabilities and interconnectedness of these systems
● Restore and expand bus service to under-served areas
● Improve convenience of public transit through expanded routes, reduced transfers and point-to-point connections in the city, increased frequency, and extended hours of service in key employment and hospitality centers
● Expand amenities for transit riders, including bike lockers, bus stop shelters, lighting, and benches
● Explore a city-wide circulator bus system that better serves intra-city transit needs
● Expand affordable transit passes for our small business community; businesses with less than 35 employees make up over two-thirds of our city workforce, but these businesses do not have an available option—the UTA EcoPass is restricted to businesses with 35 or more employees, and the Hive Pass is restricted to city residents, making affordable transit out of reach.
According to Utah Rivers Council, Urban Utahns are among the highest water users of municipal water in America. Although Salt Lake City has made good progress in water conservation compared to the rest of Utah, many American cities are way ahead of us in water conservation.
There are many opportunities to reduce our water use through education programs to new policy initiatives.
The quality of life for Salt Lake City residents stands to be greatly impacted by the proposed Bear River development which many believe will impact the Great Salt Lake. A drop in lake levels could expose lake bed sediments and increase air quality problems by increasing the levels of fine dust in Salt Lake City’s air. As Mayor, I will lead discussions and encourage research about this potential problem.
Salt Lake City’s watersheds are not just our water supply, they are the recreational garden for millions of visitors every year. Because visitor use and new development is likely to increase in the future, it's more important than ever that we protect our watersheds through open space funding and acquisition of important lands now at risk from development.
As Mayor I will expand watershed protection and water conservation programs.
● Salt Lake City will lead by example by assessing our city’s property, implementing drought tolerant landscapes where appropriate, ensuring efficient irrigation, and use of secondary water wherever possible.
● Share Salt Lake City’s water use information with the public
● Expand Rain barrel collection programs
● Educate residents on water conservation and encourage our city’s top water users to utilize drought tolerant landscaping
● Quantify the amount of unused agriculture water diverted in area canals, and review the policies surrounding its use
Great Salt Lake wetland protection
● With the pending prison relocation being adjacent to the Great Salt Lake, I will prioritize protection of wetlands in those areas.
● Recruit state and municipal partners to help protect the Great Salt Lake ecosystem
● Inventory new opportunities to protect the watershede
● Accelerate protection of at-risk watershed lands
● Better manage revenue that is earmarked for watershed protection
● As climate change continues to reduce our snowpack, Salt Lake City must take the lead in preparing for these impacts through robust research programs and new policy proposals that address our water use & supply
Salt Lake City has the responsibility to protect our delicate watershed lands and as mayor, I will take that responsibility very seriously.
Mayor Becker would have us believe that Mountain Accord is his crowning achievement. He is highly critical of anyone pointing out flaws or concerns and he paints any criticism as anti-watershed and anti-conservation. Nothing could be further from the truth.
While I appreciate the effort that has gone into the Mountain Accord and the time spent trying to solve the problem of slow degradation of our canyons, this document needs someone who will look at it with a critical eye. We must view our canyons as a delicate ecosystem that needs to be protected and preserved.
Mountain Accord is an aspirational document but our work is far from complete. There will be environmental studies before anything can be done on the Accord’s plans and we must ensure that those studies are not rushed and are thorough, to eliminate the potential of irreversible harm to our delicate watershed areas.
I participated in the Canyon Transportation Study and gained a great deal of understanding and knowledge from that experience. Our study recognized the increased traffic in our canyon and recommended increasing bus service to accommodate those needs in a much more cost effective way.
The option of a tunnel and a train (or non-auto, as it is referred) are included in the final version of the accord and I have very serious concerns about those options. In addition to the significant environmental concerns, there are also serious opportunity costs associated with the political will and the financial resources of building a train and tunnel. These resources could be better used to build a transit system for the city. I will not do as Mayor Becker has done and put all my political clout behind a canyon train over the transit needs of Salt Lake City.
Environmental groups have given up a lot to reach this agreement and we must hold that line.
Concerns with Mountain Accord and Water and Land Management in Our Canyons
● Canyon expansion benefits a small number of Utah residents at a very high cost to residents of Salt Lake City. I am concerned with the trickle down costs to local transit riders for an elaborate rail system up the canyon that is designed primarily for visitors. We must balance cost and benefit, and ensure that we are not negatively impacting our city residents and pricing them out for recreation opportunities.
● We all know the saying, “if you build it, they will come.” We should be building to meet the needs, not creating pressure for future growth by high cost expansion.
● We face great uncertainty about the impact of climate change on our canyons. We need to invest our resources in strategies that allow us to respond in a flexible manner when conditions change.
● We must operate from a place of collaboration and negotiation for the purchase of land in the canyons rather than immediately turning to expensive litigation.
● One of the most pressing issues confronting Utah over the next few decades is water supply. Mountain Accord promises new culinary water to Alta for expansion and increased water for snowmaking purposes, a demand that is likely to increase with the expected impacts of climate change. Any promise of water rights should be nonbinding to allow for reevaluation, and contingent upon future water needs.
● The residents of this city should have a major role in decisions that will determine the future of these lands. I am committed to ensuring that all future actions on Mountain Accord will be conducted with full transparency and with the involvement of the public.
The mayor of the capital city must be an outspoken advocate for designated wilderness in the state of Utah.
We also have designated wilderness in the Wasatch Mountains, within a few miles of our city’s boundary, and the red rock landscapes of the San Rafael Swell, Greater Canyonlands, and the Bears Ears region, just a few hours away. We are truly blessed to have these spectacular landscapes at our doorstep.
But we also have an obligation to protect them, now and forever. Access to wild places should be the birthright of every generation to come, and they are a powerful economic generator for our economy. For example, one of the reasons that the Outdoor Retailer show is held in Salt Lake City is because of our proximity to pristine recreational lands. The OR show generates $28 million in revenue for Salt Lake City and Utah, and the outdoor industry itself contributes $12 billion dollars a year to Utah’s economy.
Utah’s wild lands are what help to make Utah a great place to live, work, and raise a family. This is why I support America’s Redrock Wilderness Act - protection for 9.2 million acres of Utah wilderness, and this is why I support greater protection for public lands in the Wasatch Mountains.