Salt Lake: A Model City

By: Tribune Editorial
Salt Lake City, UT (November 18, 2008)- Sustainability. Sounds simple enough. We’ve managed so far, right? The evidence is mounting that we’re poisoning the planet, destroying our health, erasing open spaces, depleting precious resources at an alarming rate. That life, as we live it, is not sustainable. That the quality of life for ourselves and future generations will deteriorate, drastically, unless we change our ways. So Salt Lake City officials have undertaken a first-of-its-kind “sustainability” project.

If successful, they’ll develop a model the nation can live by. They’ll redefine the word.
Alternative energy. Mobility and mass transportation. Urban forestry. Housing accessibility and diversity. Community health and safety. Recycling and waste reduction. Open space, parks, trails. Greenhouse gas and pollution reductions. Nutrition and food production. Those are the raw ingredients for a comprehensive sustainability ordinance. Throw them into the code book, add a dash of resolve. City officials, with the help of consultants, are still working out the details.
An inventory of the city’s green policies and initiatives is being taken and organized. Outdated concepts and ordinances that stand in the way of sustainable lifestyles will be purged. And new initiatives designed to make Salt Lake City more walkable, more livable, more sustainable- to make it the greenest of cities will be devised.
Parts of the amalgamated ordinance- measures to protect streams and promote xeriscaping- are already on the books. Other endeavors- more mass transit, a hybridized city fleet, open space preservation- are works in progress. Still more initiatives- tree-planting programs, recycling bins for office buildings- are tried and proven elsewhere, but not here.
Plus, changes in city codes could allow backyard gardeners to sell produce from front-stoop stands, and make it easier to retrofit historic homes with solar panels and energy-efficient windows.
The finished product- the nation’s first comprehensive sustainability ordinances- will be unveiled at open houses by the end of the year. Mayor Ralph Becker hopes to complete the fast-tracked process by February. The planet’s clock is ticking.
Related Resources:
Salt Lake Tribune- Salt Lake: A Model City
Salt Lake City mayor wants green rules in black and white