Feb 3, 2023 - News

SLC mayor's 2023 goals include affordable housing, greener streets

Illustration of the Salt Lake City & County Building with lines radiating from it.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall unveiled her 2023 goals this week, with an emphasis on alleviating the city's environmental woes and lack of affordable housing.

Why it matters: Salt Lake City faces a transformative moment as it experiences rapid population growth. What Mendenhall prioritizes now could impact the direction the city is heading for years to come.

What they're saying: "2023 is going to be a big year for Salt Lake City," the mayor said in a statement. "In addition to the amazing work our employees carry out each day, we're already working on big ideas to make it a greener and more affordable place to live."

Details: One of Mendenhall's priorities is the development of an 8-acre tiny home community for homeless people. Called The Other Side Village, the development would include 85 housing units, per the Salt Lake Tribune.

  • If successful, it could expand to 430 homes.

What's happening: Between 2020 and 2022, the number of homeless people in Salt Lake City increased nearly 7%, per KUER.

  • During her State of the City address last week, the first-term mayor said Utah's homeless population of 700 is much lower than other states like California and Colorado.
  • She also noted that Salt Lake City is investing more in affordable housing "than we ever have before."

Of Mendenhall's dozens of goals for the year, here are some that stand out:

  • She wants to work closely with the Utah Department of Transportation, which is studying a proposal to add more lanes to I-15. Salt Lake leaders, including Mendenhall, have expressed concerns that the expansion could displace homes and businesses adjacent to the freeway via eminent domain.
  • Some environmental initiatives include a new tree watering campaign to maintain the city's tree canopy and to improve air quality — as part of the mayor's broader tree planting effort.

The other side: Her opponents — including former Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson, who is running again in this year's mayoral race — have criticized Mendenhall for her response to the city's growing homeless population.

  • Mendenhall has defended her efforts around homelessness. Last year, she proposed a $6 million grant program to build 400 units for low-income residents and homeless people.

Editor's note: This story has been corrected to remove a reference to a local nonprofit stating that newly planted trees were insufficiently watered.


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