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Posts tagged ‘mayor becker’

Open Letter from Mayor Becker on Air Quality

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

As you may know, air quality has been a major focus of my work as mayor. My administration has been working on bringing greater attention to the issue and I’ve been advocating for aggressive, meaningful steps to that can be taken by Salt Lake City, state government, industry and individuals to help clean our air.

This is a complex problem and the only way we’re going to solve it is with a comprehensive solution. Let’s come together and fix this problem right away-we can’t wait, the time for talk is over, we need to take action.

Mayor Becker delivers his State of the City address on air quality to a packed house.

Mayor Becker delivers his State of the City address on air quality to a packed house.

During my recent State of the City Address on solving the air quality problem, I proposed key actions that must be taken in order to accomplish this goal.

With clean air as our goal, Salt Lake City has adopted anti-idling ordinances, more than doubled our bike lanes and introduced the City’s first solar farm. For the upcoming year, we are launching the City’s first-ever multiple transit pass and are creating an incentive program to phase out wood burning stoves.

In addition to what Salt Lake City is doing, I’ve also outlined what the state ought to do. Those actions should include:

  • Allocating More Money for Public Transit
    • Increased funding for public transit in Salt Lake City would allow for buses and trains to run more frequently. We must make it more affordable and accessible for individuals to drive less and ride more.
  • Making Lower Sulfur Gasoline a Requirement
    • Tier 3 gasoline has lower levels of sulfur and therefore helps decrease emissions. It is widely available to us but is not required. Mandating that it be required would provide an immediate impact on our air quality.
  • Requiring Buildings to Use Power Efficiently
    • Utah’s energy code standards date back to 2006, lagging far behind many national and international standards. Adopting an updated building code for energy efficiency would help reduce energy use and improve air quality.
  • Making the True Cost of Driving Transparent at the Pump
    • Gas prices have a significant impact on how much people drive their cars. Raising the gas tax would help pay for better roads while also encouraging less driving and improving air quality.
  • Allowing Utah to set Utah-specific air quality standards
    • Setting air quality standards tailored to Utah’s needs is imperative if we are to improve our air quality. Generic national conditions will not work in Utah, and we need to set air quality standards that will work for us.

These are real solutions that will not only produce tangible differences, but produce them quickly. We have received a great response from the community, and are looking to turn that response into results.

If the state is unable to do these things for any reason, I’ve asked that they grant local governments the ability to make these changes because we will get it done at the local level. Enough is enough.

There are 2 things that I would ask of you in order to help improve our air quality.

  1. Lobby your legislators — Ask them to support these measures that I am bringing up and consider the other proposals that will clean up our air.
  2. If they do not support these measures, ask your legislators to grant authority to the local level, so that we can take care of our own problems. We can get this done on the local level if the state can’t or won’t.

I would also implore you to work with your legislators, and not against them. To be effective and to make real change, we need to work together in a respectful and civil manner. While it is important to let your voice be heard, it is equally important to do so in a manner which conveys respect and encourages cooperation.

One of the most memorable moments of my State of the City speech was when a class of 4th graders from Whittier Elementary School took the stage and sang a song they wrote about the inversion and what needs to be done. Our children are, at the end of the day, the most important reason we must strive to clean our air and these kids said it better than anyone could. Watch the video.

There has been enough talk, and it is time for action. A change must be made, and it is up to each and every one of us to make that change.
I hope you will join me in the fight to help improve the air quality of Salt Lake City.

Warm Regards,

Ralph Becker
Mayor
P.S. If you were unable to attend my State of the City address in person, the full text of the speech and some additional information about the issue can be found here.
Also the Salt Lake City Tribune ran a terrific op-ed that discusses the ideas I laid out in my air quality address and if you’re interested, you can read it here.

Mayor Becker Takes on Air Quality

On Wednesday, January 8, Mayor Ralph Becker gathered with residents, students and stakeholders to deliver his 2014 State of the City Address.

But instead of following tradition and sharing the administration’s accomplishments, Mayor Becker focused his entire speech on air quality.

The Mayor began by focusing on what Salt Lake City has already accomplished to reduce emissions and help clear the air. Efforts include the City’s Idle Free Ordinance, bike share, electric vehicle charging stations, biking infrastructure and the new net zero Public Safety Building. Read the full summary.

Then he outlined Salt Lake City’s next steps on air quality issues, including discount transit pass for city residents, creating an incentive program to replace woodburning stoves and phasing out inefficient maintenance equipment like 2 stroke engines. Read the full summary.

In some of the most compelling moments of the address, Mayor Becker outlined five clear requests for state government. These requests specifically deal with limitations that local governments face when combating air pollution. Part of the plea included the message “If this can’t be accomplished at the state level, let us. We at the local level can get it done.”

  1. Allocate more money for public transit. “We have to make it easier for people to use transit as an alternative to driving. We need more coverage that runs more frequently and costs less. Recent polling and many anecdotes I hear reinforce how difficult it is for most people to use transit. It just takes too long and is too inconvenient. And the only way to improve transit service is to better fund it. I urge our State to raise the cap on sales tax for transit. It should be a no-brainer. Or, if you are unwilling to do so, let us do it. Give us local control to fund transit. We at the local level can get it done.”
  2. Make lower sulphur gasoline available. “Tier 3 gasoline, as it is called, has lower levels of sulphur and therefore decreased emissions. It is mandated in other states and should be required for use along the Wasatch Front. This technology exists today to significantly reduce tailpipe emissions. Interestingly, one of our local refineries, Chevron, already produces Tier 3 gasoline, but it is shipped to Washington State because it’s is required there. Even our Salt Lake County Council of Governments endorsed the shift to Tier 3. Or, once again, if you are not willing to do that, let us make that determination locally.”
  3. Change state law to allow for standards that are relevant to Utah. “Do you all know that we have a state law that says our air quality standards here in Utah cannot be more strict than federal standards? Are we really okay with a standard that represents a passing grade for most other cities and states, but still allows us to fail? Since when are we content with Federal officials in Washington determining what’s best for the people of Utah? If this can’t be accomplished at the state level, give us local control over air quality standards so we can make them fit our local needs.”
  4. Make the true cost of driving transparent at the pump. “Gas prices directly affect whether people drive their cars more or less. According to a recent statewide survey, about half of Utahns would reduce vehicle use if gas cost an additional 25 to 75 cents per gallon. And, at an additional $1 per gallon, nearly two thirds would reduce their vehicle use and find other ways to run errands, get to work, and live their lives. If this can’t be accomplished at the state level, let us. We at the local level can get it done, and in fact local governments are united around a proposal for a local option gas tax increase.
  5. Require buildings to use power efficiently. Utah’s energy code standards date back to 2006. Since then, national and international building codes have been upgraded and have been proven to achieve a 30% improvement in energy efficiency. Many other jurisdictions across America have done this already. If state entities cannot or will not, let us do it. We can get it done locally.”

The event closed with the 4th grade ELP students from Whittier Elementary singing an original song called “The Frightful Inversion.” Watch the video below!

Additional Resources

Read a full transcript of the 2014 State of the City Address.

View images on SLCgreen Instagram.

Join the conversation! Use the #clearupslc hashtag on Twitter and Instagram.

Sustainable City Dashboard

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Screenshot of the homepage of the Sustainable City Dashboard.

Today SLCgreen joined Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker to unveil a new and innovative tool to track our sustainability efforts and engage with the public.

The Sustainable City Dashboard website features over 100 different metrics from 12 core areas of livability: Air & Climate, Energy, Recycling, Transportation, Open Space, Water, Urban Forestry, Arts & Culture, Housing, Community Health & Safety, Food & Nutrition and Education.

“The Sustainable City Dashboard is an effort to openly engage with residents as we work toward our goals for the future,” said Mayor Becker. “The tool illuminates a broad and ambitious agenda to protect our resources, enhance our assets and establish a path toward greater resiliency and vitality for every aspect of our community.”

The dashboard also features a venue for residents to voice their ideas and concerns about all aspects of Salt Lake City life. The new format, facilitated through Open City Hall, provides the opportunity for two-way communication and enhanced idea sharing.

We hope that Salt Lake City residents will see the new dashboard as an opportunity to explore what their city is doing to improve our community, and become part of the process by sharing their own ideas on how we can reach our goals.

Start exploring the new Sustainable City Dashboard.  We can’t wait to hear your ideas!

Winter Farmers Market Arrives Nov 9

Farmer's Market

Although the Downtown Farmers Market is in its final days of the season, another farmers market is on the horizon for Salt Lake City residents.

Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker and the Downtown Alliance recently announced the arrival of a new Winter Farmers Market that will take up residence in the Rio Grande Depot.

Opening day is scheduled for Saturday, November 9. The Winter Farmers Market will take place every other Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. through April 26.

Officials are heralding this as an important step towards a year round market, similar to those seen in Seattle, Portland and Madison, Wisconsin.

Roughly 50 vendors are slated to participate, offering fresh produce, meat, bread, honey, eggs and other items.

2013: The Year of the Bike

BikeLaneBanner

Salt Lake City has declared 2013 the “Year of the Bike” to recognize and promote the many bicycle events, programs, and infrastructure projects happening in the Salt Lake region in the coming year.

We caught up with Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker, Salt Lake City Councilman Stan Penfold, UTA General Manager Mike Allegra, UDOT Deputy Director Carlos Braceras and several other community leaders at the Year of the Bike kick-off event to hear about what’s in store.

YearOfTheBike_web

At the event, UTA shared two exciting announcements – buses will now have bike racks that accept three bikes at a time (expanded from two) and bike hooks will be added to TRAX trains across the valley!

So what else is on the schedule?

More information is available at BikeSLC.com.

Think spring!