As I walk and talk with my neighbors in district 3 a common complaint is the rise of crime around their homes: car break-ins, home invasions, getting accosted on the streets, as well as mail and other personal items being stolen from around their homes.
We are two blocks away from ground zero for crime in the state, and we are feeling it. For example, in our district, 31 people were cited for drug abuse. But just across the street in our neighboring district 4 there were 380 citations for drug abuse. District 4 contains the most of criminal elements that preys upon the homeless population.
Police have stated they have lost control of areas of Downtown. Businesses struggle due to blighted areas of crime. Shoppers and tourists avoid certain areas because of the illegal and dangerous activity happening around the homeless shelters. We now have a Honduran Cartel that has moved into SLC. We cannot afford to lose control of more areas of Downtown. We have to clean up the city. It should be safe for everyone, everywhere. Residents have the right to walk outside of their homes, and not fear being attacked, or offered illegal substances on their way to shopping at the city mall, or getting lunch at a café. They shouldn't be in danger of getting stuck by a needle as they sit under a tree in a public park.
This isn’t just a Salt Lake City problem. This is a state crisis. We will need legislative, municipal, and private help to resolve the problem that in large part, we have created. It’s not too late. It will be hard work. We should focus on helping the homeless transition out of their current situation. We can be compassionate; we just need to be a lot smarter about it. There are many things we can do. We can pull from the experience and success of other states who have been dealing with this issue much longer that Salt Lake City. In New York with around 8.5 million people they currently have a little over 200 homeless deaths a year. SLC with a population under 200K has around 100 homeless deaths a year. We need to ask ourselves why many homeless choose to weather the elements of our winters to avoid the dangers of our organized shelters. Clearly our services and policies are not always helping the homeless.
Unfortunately, in Salt Lake we have to contend with some of the country’s worst air quality. Cars and homes are two of the largest sources of pollution.
I want to start reducing emissions by rewarding people who cut their homes' air pollution and carbon footprint. We can’t let utilities penalize people for using less fossil fuels or putting solar panels on their homes. I want to see tax credits for geothermal heat pumps, as well.
I think we should continue, and create, incentives for buying electric cars.
We must encourage legislation to update the state's building requirements for energy codes. We are currently years behind the standard, and if you factor in written exemptions, closer to a decade behind current practices. These outdated standards mean more air pollution.
We have the opportunity to be a model city on reversing the effects of air quality neglect. The benefits will be a healthier and more beautiful city.