Finally, a Utah city progressive enough to do something about the affordable-housing crisis. Taylorsville leaders want to give mobile-home-park residents a voice when developers come knocking with McMansion blueprints. State law provides only 90-days notice before park residents get the bum’s rush. Thirteen parks have closed since 2002, including three this year in Salt Lake County. The Taylorsville plan would zone the city’s three parks (housing 1,000 people) specifically for mobile homes, forcing future developers at least to go through a public zone-changing process before starting the bulldozers. The plan might be a model for allegedly progressive Salt Lake City where the council is considering shuttering three State Street buildings that provide some of the only low-cost rents in the city.
The state Board of Education backed away from a proposal to ban junk-food vending machines in Utah schools after listening to presentations from executives of Coke and Pepsi. Utah had been blasted by a national scientists group for lacking any nutritional standards for food peddled in school hallways, but the concern wasn’t enough to overcome the $3.7 million Utah schools receive each year for allowing vending machines. Some school board members praised Coke and Pepsi for setting wonderful examples as good corporate citizens. For their part, the soft-drink manufacturers assured the board they would do everything in their power to fill school soft-drink machines with water … just as soon as they could get around to it.
Choking air has descended on Utah’s valleys, stinging the eyes and sending asthma sufferers reaching for gas masks. Who can help? Gov. Huntsman’s special blue-ribbon panel on climate change finished its work without recommending the “clean power” plan the governor hoped for. Energy producers apparently balked at the idea, and now Huntsman has asked a new group to come up with air solutions. Leadership on pollution may fall to others. Thankfully, Utah Moms for Clean Air and others recently joined to form the Utah Clean Air Alliance. The new group, which plans to run ad campaigns and press for laws in the 2008 Legislature, may be able to create the political will to do something about the air up there.