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Car Culture 

Something in the Air, Crowd Control

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Car Culture
What's really hard is when you know what you want but you really have no idea how to get it. That's the problem the Salt Lake City Council is facing as it weighs the problems and advantages of development against the problems and more problems of traffic and parking. Mayor Erin Mendenhall likes the idea of borrowing $7 million to help developers build a huge parking structure in the Granary district. The Salt Lake Tribune quoted Councilman Dan Dugan wondering how it all works. "We're trying to get away from a car-centric city and here we are building a 926-stall parking structure. I'm concerned about adding more parking spots to an area where we're already trying to get rid of cars." Mendenhall wants to make sure some of the stalls would be open to the public and has a vision of redesigning the garage for other uses in that faraway world where driving is less attractive.

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Something in the Air
When you don't want to do something hard, deflect and distract. That's what's happening with bad air in Utah where pollution is our middle name. Salt Lake City recently won the distinction of having the worst air in the country and the second worst in the world, according to IQ Air, which ranks city air quality. The state had until August 3 to meet Environmental Protection Agency standards or face the consequences. The consequences we know are to our health, but the ones that may matter are to industry, whose emissions keep on giving. But fossil fuel and mining groups have been pressuring elected officials and regulators to shift the blame from them to China, according to The Salt Lake Tribune. The state Division of Environmental Quality disputes that theory. Instead of blaming China, Utah should take a page from that country's experience. China has been relocating and shutting down polluters to address its urban pollution for some time and with some success.

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Crowd Control
There are still things to celebrate in Utah. Our five national parks, for instance, have brought business from local and international visitors, presenting opportunities and challenges. That's despite the now-withering, decades-old movement to "take back" Utah's public lands. It's curious to see Sen. Mike Lee praising the parks and joining a Senate effort to proactively address overcrowding. Lee and Sen. Mitt Romney both had voted against the Great American Outdoors Act. Advocate Tim Glenn, in a Tribune op-ed, suggested Lee might try campaigning for better funding of the parks, rather than dismantling them. There have been numerous national articles—including a recent one from the Washington Post—praising the beauty and depth of the national park experience. Solutions to overcrowding take funding and will. Utah, a don't-tax-me state, has neither.

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About The Author

Katharine Biele

Katharine Biele

Bio:
A City Weekly contributor since 1992, Biele is the informed voice behind our Hits & Misses and Citizen Revolt columns. When not writing, you can catch her working to empower voters and defend democracy alongside the League of Women Voters.

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