PICTURE OF THE YEAR - WHY UTA IS NOT INCREASING RIDERSHIP
THE UNEXAMINED LIFE WON'T IMPROVE
I put the last few years of blog in a download button (Newsblog) on the right. Below is the last 6 months of blog. If you need a download/document that you don't see on this page, email me.
COUNTY COUNCIL EMAILS
CITY COUNCIL EMAILS
RALPH BECKER HYPOCRITICALLY SAYS RAISED TAXES SHOULD BE FOR STREET REPAIR
KUTV2 and Wendy Halloran had a great story on the lack of Funding Our Future money going to adequately maintain our streets. I urge you to Google it. It started with an interview with Ralph Becker who is the last person interested in maintaining streets in my opinion.
Ralph Becker raised taxes for street repair but repurposed the money the next year! It was hypocritical for former Mayor Ralph Becker to be quoted on street repair. Mayor Ralph Becker increased taxes for street repair (about $8 million, against the City Council's objections). But the next year, he repurposed the increased street maintenance tax for the general fund and other issues (without the City Council noticing right away). The former Streets Maintenance manager said that the City needed at least 8 million more a year for proper streets maintenance. (I think the Salt Lake Tribune and Chris Smart did a story on this.) I was involved in organizing a fight against the tax increase which we felt would be used for other uses than streets.
The Police category of Funding Our Future is being used to play a shell game to try to say that SLCPD is getting reduced funding (firefighters and 911 dispatch get a significant portion of that).
We were told that one extra street maintenance truck and team would be funded. But the biggest loss on street maintenance was the repurposing of the $87 million bond to "prettify" streets instead of providing basic maintenance. The reconstruction of streets involves a lot of new designs and road diets. The City claims that it is for bicycling but the bicycle amenities are mickey mouse in my opinion. It is still dangerous to bicycle in Salt Lake City.
And on Ralph's comment in the KUTV2 story on the negative impact on streets by the JCLDS Church, I did an oped in one of the local papers years ago that argued that educational institutions and the churches help the City (UofU is an asset and the JCLDS Church saved the City by bankrolling City Creek during the Great Recession). It is one of the reasons I ran against him for mayor.
FORMER CONGRESSMAN MCADAMS WANTS TAXPAYERS TO THANK LEGISLATURE FOR SECRET $12 MILLION S-LINE FUNDING
Former Congressman Ben McAdams, who lives a few houses from the S-Line in Sugar House, attended the Sugar House Community Council's April meeting and asked that the Community Council send a letter to the Legislature thanking them for the $12 million appropriation in HB433 to extend the S-Line. But the HB433 that was released to the public for the one day noticed public hearing at the Legislature, did not have funding for the S-Line. Although Millcreek Mayor Silvistrini testified for the bill that allocated $300 million to the double tracking of FrontRunner (carrying 5000 a day now and UTA surveys expect up to 7000 more after the pandemic with greater frequency), the next day, the $12 million S-Line funding showed up in the bill which passed without any more public hearings. I assumed that Rep. Winder, the Economic Director of Millcreek, added the $12 million for Millcreek because that is the dream of Mayor Silvistrini, to run the S-Line south through Millcreek.
But the Sugar House Community Council, in general loved the idea that it will take the S-Line into the heart of Sugar House at Simpson and Highland Drive. I think that the heart of Sugar House is further north and the first plan to turn the rail north was to take it to the heart of Sugar House. I guess that the heart is moving south towards Millcreek.
Councilwoman Amy Fowler was almost giddy at the potential extension, which is essentially one block for the 700 who ride the S-Line daily. I have to say this, NEVER HAVE SO FEW BEEN GIVEN SO MUCH TO NOT HAVE TO WALK ANOTHER BLOCK. Ms. Fowler also mentioned that the Mayor is excited about the extension. Mayor Mendenhall has consistently been trying to extend the S-Line north.
Lost to many is the significant negative impact that the rail of this "streetcar", which is in the roadway, will have on bicycling whether it is extended south (I expect that the next session will give Millcreek even more to send it south) on Highland or on 1300 East. Bicyclists have often caught their tires in streetcar rails with serious results. And, the S-Line, on a street, will destroy the mountain views, significantly increase property taxes, rezone for increased density since single family homes do not provide enough riders to be cost effective for rail and, worst of all, require Salt Lake City taxpayers to help fund the Millcreek rail line to the tune of $100 million (local match needed for federal funding)! These are the same arguments that we used to stop the streetcar extension north.
Former City Councilman Soren Simonsen pushed for taking the S-Line to the east and Sugar House Park. He is right that any extension should go east. Sugar House Park is the biggest destination in the area. The pre-COVID ridership was 1600 per day on weekends but only 1300 per weekday. That shows that most used the S-Line for recreation and probably the parks. But the suggestion and effort seems to be to prepare the S-Line to go to Simpson and then via Highland to Millcreek. If the streetcar went up Wilmington, at least it would have easy access to Hidden Hollow and the Draw into Sugar House Park. There is no safe way to access Sugar House Park except via Wilmington.
The UTA outreach coordinator, Megan Waters will be taking public comment on the S-Line extention at email@example.com.
LOCALLINK.COM STUDY PUSHES EVERYTHING BUT INCREASED BUS SERVICE
At the Sugar House Community Council meeting, Lynn.Jacobs@slcgov.com gave an update to the effort by Millcreek and Salt Lake and South Salt Lake to increase transportation options. Unfortunately, the City asked to take a survey that seems to deliberately skew the responses away from the cheapest plan, buses. The survey asks which transit system they prefer from TRAX, enhanced bus, streetcar or BRT. No buses were suggested! This survey is inappropriate and poorly constructed.
Bus service needs to be returned to 15 minutes on the 1100E/1300E route 213 first, and if ridership returns, then consider other projects. Look at bus ridership on 213 first. Spending hundreds of millions when ridership doesn't exist does not make sense. If it did, UTA wouldn't have reduced service on 213! BUSES/BETTER SERVICE/SPAN OF SERVICE SHOULD HAVE BEEN AN OPTION.
The cheapest transit solution with the best potential ridership would be a bus on 1100E. Half hour service is not going to increase service (plus transfers are very poor and away from connecting service). Save money and put in wider shared sidewalks so families can safely bike in the area.
I still think that the Highland Drive residents would block the Millcreek plan for the streetcar (due to power lines obstructing mountain views, parking removal, rail impact on bike safety, property tax increases and SLC having to pay for a Millcreek plan). Again UTA has not proven that they can successfully design and operate a BRT. (UVX is not a BRT. It is a free benefit for students.)
The Locallink.com study should result, if done right focus on wider sidewalks first. The survey should also put the local taxpayer predicted match at the beginning of the survey. It is a minimum of a hundred million for rail.
There was also a presentation on the potential road diet on Highland to meet the Millcreek designs that want a three lane road with center turn lane. But they are suggesting allowing parking on the street! That is not allowed now! That destroys the potential for 9 foot wide bike lanes and any safe bicycling path! In addition, it was suggested to remove parking on one side of Highland south of I80 but one reason that residents on Highland accepted the road diet from almost 20 years ago was they got on street parking! That parking on the street is often full on weekends!
As I keep saying, Millcreek Mayor Silvistrini wants his rail and he won't let little ole Salt Lake stop him, not with Rep. Mike Winder in his corner.
Please got to locallink.com and take the survey, whatever your opinion.
UDOT PROVIDES I80 PROJECT DATES FOR 2 BRIDGE REPLACEMENTS AND NEW CONCRETE LANES
Another presentation on Sugar House projects was given by UDOT and they covered the 1700 East bridge replacement (in one day in August of 2021) and the 1300 East bridge replacement in the fall of 2021. The work will keep three lanes open during the day in each direction. UDOT will also add another lane for a total of four lanes westbound.
The new concrete should be a little quieter but the residents around the area still have to contend with the noise of engine brakes on heavy duty trucks. UDOT says that the area does not meet noise requirements for a sound barrier. If it did, UDOT would have to put sound walls on each side of the freeway. The new concrete should have new less noisy tining. "Longitudinal tining is an effective method to reduce noise and provide the added safety of hydro-planing reduction". I am still trying to confirm that it will be used on the new concrete. New concrete, even without tining, is less noisy than old concrete. For updates, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
During discussion, several complained that building more lanes results in more traffic. The reality is more lanes make it more convenient to have a home further away with a bigger yard. I know several who gave up on Salt Lake City and moved to Heber! The increased traffic is due to the ability to have a better life with a better home with a larger yard. Driving half and hour or an hour is not an issue with cars that almost drive themselves. Ask Governor Cox why he drives two hours each way, each day (when he is not in his central Utah office).
RANKED CHOICE GENERAL ELECTION HURTS CANDIDATE DEBATE POTENTIAL
I believe that using ranked choice voting for municipal candidates (4 SLC Councilmembers up for election this year - note that Amy Fowler has not decided if she will run for re-election) in the General Election will interfere with the potential debates that voters depend on to help decide who they will vote for. If the City decides to forgo the Primary, allowed with a ranked choice General Election, candidates would apply by August instead of by June 7. But the biggest effect on the voters and particularly on the community councils is that there could be a large number of candidates in the election and that would make debates impractical and laughable. If more than two candidates for municipal offices are on the General Election ballot, community councils and voters will have less time to hear the two best candidates debate. From years of hands on experience both managing campaigns and running for office, I have found that the problem with more than two candidates is that the community councils, and other groups hosting debates, have to allow all of the candidates into the debate. Even the ones that may not have a chance at winning. That decreases legitimate debates.
Several examples show the problem. Nationally, during the Presidential Primaries, the number of candidates on the debate stage was almost laughable. Locally, in 2013, there were way too many running for office in District 5 to allow a good debate that could cover more than a couple of questions. In other words, there was not enough time for the community councils to allow all to participate in debates until after the top two were chosen in the primary (I helped set up the one debate.). In the 2015 mayor's election, the 5 candidates made effective debates at the community councils almost impossible. Greater Avenues settled the issue by choosing who they felt were the top two candidates for a first debate and let the last three debate at the next month's meeting. That could have resulted in a lawsuit if any of the candidates felt slighted (we didn't). The first mayoral debate in 2015 may have seemed to stay on point and provided good points but subsequent TV debates were rushed and didn't allow a good defining of the candidates, in my opinion.
I expect many to run for municipal offices this year for each opening and that will make the hosting of debates almost impossible until after a primary that chooses the top two candidates. The best example is the large number of candidates that applied for the last opening on the District 5 City Council seat. I believe many activists will apply to push the issues that were common in the last year, including defunding police, police brutality, homeless camp cleanups, affordable housing, etc.
My main point is that over the years, candidates for municipal offices cannot provide a good education for voters without debates and debates with more than the top two candidates are difficult and do not really provide more than a couple of questions answered. Without debates, voters have to rely on candidate marketing materials. With more than a couple of candidates, potential debates will turn into a bunch of slogans by activists hoping to get their point across. And the candidates who will be most negatively impacted are those with minimal funding who will have a much more difficult time trying to get their name out there.
If the City really wants to educate the voters, the City should consider hosting debates for each Council District at local schools. In 2014, the Legislature made all public schools civic centers (all charter schools were added in 2015) so that the only cost for using the school facilities is a modest rental fee (and damage deposit) since added insurance is not needed. Local schools would provide a large audience and educate voters better than candidate marketing materials. The City should host these voter education debates for the Primary and for the General Election. It would also publicize the local community councils and increase community engagement in those councils.
Salt Lake City expects to vote on a resolution on whether to have a primary on April 20 at their formal meeting. If you have comments, see the list of emails in the transit rides for millionaires below.
Salt Lake City is finally going to push for a new anti idling ordinance, a year after the Legislature allowed ticketing for idling after one warning. The City was a leader in an anti-idling ordinance but the Legislature, encouraged by many of us, overturned the ordinance and insisted that it only be educational and only allowed tickets after 3 warnings. Our concerns were mainly that low income families with older vehicles would be targeted. Mothers should not have to be threatened by police. In the last 2 years in Salt Lake City, only 17 warnings and no citations were issued. The Airport has a big problem with idling and the City is unsure how to handle it.
I think that the City should consider emphasizing discouraging diesel idling. I can make an argument that diesels contribute most of the transportation particulate contribution to our airshed since newer vehicles have only 3% of the pollution of vehicles over 30 years old. Diesel engines are refurbished, not usually thrown away and that results in excessive air pollution. The Inland Port complaints generally center on diesel trucks and this is the chance for Salt Lake City to significantly decrease the pollution from the Inland Port. (Rail diesels are used in other states and Utah is unable to stop their use.) There has been an estimate that up to 25% of diesel vehicles have engine enhancements that significantly increase pollution. For that reason alone, the ordinance should prioritize diesel anti-idling. In addition, big rig trucks are sometimes parked in residential areas and they are started up and idled regularly which results in many complaints about noise. Again, diesels, should be a priority for enforcement. Police have excessive responsibilities and they should be focused on discouraging idling diesels before ticketing idling new cars.
Based on years of watching diesels performing work for the City, despite contracts that say no unnecessary idling, those diesels, performing City work, are idling for hours! The ordinance should specifically state that all City contracts are required to have anti-idling as a part of the contract and a signed agreement to limit idling in accordance with the ordinance. I did not see that in the ordinance even though Engineering tells me that contracts say that.
Motorcycles should be specifically mentioned in the anti-idling ordinance.
I still think that SLCPD should not have to address a low income family in an older car trying to keep their kids warm in the winter by idling. That could lead to situations that can rapidly escalate to what may end up being labeled police brutality.
Line 53, new D. needs the word "testing" added for emissions testing.
K-9 idling has been a big problem/issue at the State Capitol. The K-9 dogs are kept in the vehicles parked next to the Capitol for hours while the vehicle is idling! In addition to the concern for the dogs' sanity, the idling vehicles create a large source of pollution by government employees. There should be a one hour limit to idling with a dog inside. There should also be a limit for idling while waiting for someone (going into a store, waiting to pickup at the Airport, etc).
Finally, noise is an issue. The City Council staff report mentions this and future ordinances may target this issue. The Legislature has been trying to address it (Sen. Bramble, Rep. Dunnigan). Much of the problem can be decreased by focusing police and other enforcement (allowing parking patrol to ticket idling vehicles) on diesels. But this City should also investigate future fine tuning of ordinances to discourage removing noise enhancements for vehicles and motorcycles. I am told that that is common. Federal regulations state that 80db is the maximum noise allowed on motorcycles but removing standard mufflers significantly increases noise.
Bottom line, diesels should be targeted for anti-idling enforcement and the City should not legalize keeping a dog in an idling vehicle for hours!
SLC GETS NEW 5 YEAR ROADWORD PLAN
I put the 5 year streets projects plan in the downloads section in the right.
SLC ABOUT TO GIVE MILLIONAIRES FREE RIDES TO TRANSIT
In one of the most questionable proposals in a year of questionable proposals, Salt Lake City Council is about to approve Budget Amendment 7 which provides $800,000 for UBER like rides in the Avenues, East Bench, Glendale and Rose Park to the nearest bus stops. The millionaires in the Upper Avenues and the upper East Bench must really need the lifts.
UTA provides the service called VIA (in the downloads) in a much larger area with much larger distances to the nearest bus stops in the Southwest Salt Lake County. UTA provides the service for a subsidy per rider of about $35! Admittedly, the cost per rider is less than the cost to run full size buses but UBER and LYFT passes are less expensive.
UTA gets about $1.6 million a month in cash fares. The $800,000, in my opinion, would be better utilized and result in greater mass transit ridership growth if the funds were used to jumpstart a $1 bus fare.
Millionaires do not need rides to buses. But the citizens of Salt Lake City deserve a $1 bus fare. Please email the City Council and demand a $1 bus fare. Tell the City Council at:
SLC COUNCIL AGAIN HEARS HORROR STORIES OF KIDS EXPOSED TO METH USERS
During this week's SLC Council meeting, around 20 callers demanded that the City decrease police funding instead of increasing the funding with Budget Amendment 7. The new funds are to cover the cost of SLCPD work on homeless camp cleanups and to protect the protesters who insist that they protest in the street. What is ironic is that the $500,000 for the SLCPD protection of protesters who protest in the street is caused by the protesters of police funding marching in the street. If the SLC Police didn't have to worry about protecting the marchers in the street, they wouldn't have needed that extra funding. If you want less police funding, stop protesting in the street!
Again, hundreds may want less police funding but tens of thousands want more police funding. Communities want more funding for the police and they want camps with criminal behaviors exposed to kids abated. Stop demonizing parents who want their kids to be able to walk safely to school.
Amy Hawkins, Chair of Ballpark Community Council, who has been fighting to provide more safety to her neighborhoods, summed it up better than anyone else at the meeting. She told of how the homeless drug addicts were camped out in a park strip across from an Elementary School and smoking meth in public! She said that "Homelessness is not a crime but it can't be okay to live in a park strip across from a school and openly smoking meth".
SLC ADU REPORT SHOWS ADUS ARE NOT THE SOLUTION TO AFFORDABLE HOUSING
During the annual report on ADUs by SLC Planning Director Nick Norr