We’re breathing in 100 years of bad policy. Within Salt Lake City, we’ve made major strides to build more energy-efficient buildings and rely less on high-emission vehicles, but there is still so much to improve. City government must lead by continuing to reduce its carbon footprint and upgrade city buildings to meet higher energy efficiency. It is also time for the city to start using some of the tools it has available to encourage private industry to adopt higher standards. Finally, we have to remember that air quality is only part of the fight. We must continue to push back against the state legislature as it attempts to usurp the city’s historic water rights. The state cannot be trusted to keep our water clean.
Homelessness is a societal failure. Rent prices are out of control, and young families and aging residents are being forced out of their homes and onto the streets. As our local governments plans to open three new homeless resource centers, they are moving forward with their plan to close the Road Home, leaving us with a deficit of about 400 beds for our homeless neighbors. While I support this scattered site model and the planned diversion system to help people move into housing or treatment programs, this system is completely untested. We cannot gamble with the lives of the less fortunate. The Road Home should remain open until the new system has been proven to work, or some other temporary accommodation has been found for the people relying on those 400 beds.
I am opposed to the Inland Port, which would be an unprecedented ecological disaster for the west side of our city. We know the neighborhoods west of I-15 already deal with worse air and water quality due to the historic concentration of industry, a fact made even more disturbing by the intentional concentration of more diverse and lower income communities in these areas. The current vision for the Inland Port, with a concentration on the subsidy and proliferation of fossil fuels, would set us up for a future where every day is a red air day. There may be a way to build a trade hub that would not be a threat to our city and our communities, but this is not it.
Although we’ve seen dozens of apartment buildings rise over the last few years, the product isn’t keeping up with the demand. At a 2% vacancy rate in the city, we have a landlord’s market; they can charge anything they want, and the people have to pay it. The first part of the solution to rising rent prices can be beneficial to renters and landlords: quite simply, we have to build more. Where appropriate to the character of a neighborhood, we have to build taller and denser to make room for the rising demand. Only when the vacancy rate rises to 5% or 10% will the balance of power shift and give renters the ability to negotiate. The second part of the solution is to increase funding of affordable housing programs, and continuing to dispose of unused city land for the building of affordable housing.
Cities must be built for people, not for cars. I support a robust public transportation system that covers neighborhood connections on the west side and the east bench. Bicycles, buses, and light rail have to work in unison to form a cohesive transportation network that allows people to rely less on their cars. Especially in the downtown area, where people come to drink and enjoy our growing nightlife scene, late-night public transportation can’t be optional. According to a study commissioned by the city in 2016, there are 33,000 parking spots in downtown Salt Lake City with 40% of them being unoccupied at any given time. While understand the reality of the average daily life, we have to begin to transition away from traditional ways of thinking in the American west and begin to incentivize a low-car culture.
I support the human and civil rights of the LGBTQ+ community, justice for victims of racial discrimination, and equal rights and opportunities for women. If I am given the opportunity to serve, I will make no decisions on any major issue without regard to its impact on marginalized communities within Salt Lake City, and where possible I commit to bringing those communities to the table. Misuse of planning and zoning tools, and issues like access to transportation, have a long history of racial and socio-economic discrimination, and we can put an end to that in Salt Lake City. We must put the police under the control of a citizen oversight board, this is important for accountability and representation. It is also crucial to diversify the citizen advisory boards and commissions within the city, and we should specifically be reaching out to underrepresented communities for participation.
District 4 is home to the Central City Historic District and the South Temple Historic District, filled with historic buildings contributing to our beautiful community. We should strive to be good stewards of this history and take care to respect the past while planning for the future. I support a city loan fund for the rehabilitation of historically significant buildings. We can’t continue to see our past only through one lens, and the Historic Landmark Commission must become a more diverse body to better represent the wide array of experiences and contexts in historic Salt Lake City.
We should expand public art opportunities in cultural hubs across the city, and build stronger partnerships with the Salt Lake City School District to provide outreach and education opportunities. Public art should represent a diverse spectrum of perspectives, and as we commission new pieces for display, priority should be given to local artists. We also have many opportunities for public-private partnerships with local businesses to stretch our dollars further as we look toward the continued enrichment of our city.
I will always support labor unions and policies that are good for working families. Workers must be free from discrimination and receive fair and equal pay for their work. We must pass an equal pay ordinance that would apply to private employers within the city, with actionable recourse for those who have been discriminated against. I believe everyone has a right to be represented by a union, and that the city should prioritize union labor when negotiating with contractors.