SALT LAKE CITY, Utah, Jan. 27, 2021 (Gephardt Daily) — Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall gave her second State of the City address on Tuesday night.
In her remarks, broadcast live from the City Council Chambers of the City and County Building, Mendenhall spoke directly to constituents in a live internet broadcast. The speech reflected on the events of 2020 before looking forward at Mendenhall’s plans for Salt Lake City in 2021.
“The pre-COVID status quo was not good for everyone,” Mendenhall said. “It wasn’t just for everyone. It wasn’t safe for everyone and it wasn’t fair for everyone. Instead of Salt Lake City getting back to normal and re-creating what it once was, we are striving to make our city better through change; to come out of this pandemic stronger, more resilient, more equitable, and more just than before.”
Part of achieving that vision includes forming the first-ever Innovation Department for the city, which will drive projects that make city government more nimble, efficient, and cohesive, Mendenhall announced.
“This team will lead out in creating a culture of innovation in city government, helping Salt Lake City to modernize business processes, standardize our approach to project management, improve public transparency, streamline inefficiencies, and promote the use of data to drive decisions,” she said.
“The city will continue to build upon the ambitious, overarching objectives her administration laid out at the outset of 2020: prioritizing growth that equitably benefits city residents, making the city more environmentally resilient and sustainable, and bolstering communities with inclusive and equitable opportunities for all,” the news release said. “2021 marks the addition of another overarching priority, supporting city employees’ physical, mental, and economic well-being.”
In addition to the launch of the Innovation Department, Mendenhall announced several efforts for 2021 and beyond that will further her objectives, including:
- Viewing all departmental budgets for FY 2021-22 through the lens of equity in order to build and execute plans that push the city and its residents forward fairly.
- Urging the City Council to enact a Renter’s Choice ordinance to lower the barrier that security deposits create for some renters, and improve the ability of Salt Lakers from all income brackets to access housing.
- Beginning work on revising the housing loss mitigation fund ordinance to close loopholes in order to maintain the affordable housing that ‘naturally’ exists today and that is so needed in the city.
- Bringing in an organization with expertise mitigating gentrification to guide the city’s plans for protecting historic communities and neighborhoods, and preserving naturally occurring affordable housing and commercial spaces.
- Supporting the RDA’s strategic use of financial tools and coordination with other taxing entities to reduce the impacts of gentrification in the 9-Line area on the city’s westside.
- Transitioning the Community Commitment Program into a permanent, multi-agency approach to connecting unsheltered people with services and shelter.
- Pursuing a city ordinance that incentivizes a percentage of apprenticeships for city project contract awards.
- Developing an initial design for a “Green Loop” trail/park system that would encircle downtown. The project would enhance the physical, mental, and social health of urban residents, improve transportation choices for residents and visitors, and spur sustainable growth.
- Bolstering Salt Lake City’s business and cultural districts, and identify funding for neighborhoods to cultivate their sense of place and community pride.
Mendenhall looked back on 2020 and encouraged residents to view a report card assessing how the city fared on the goals she set out at the beginning of the year — before a pandemic and natural disasters attempted to upend it all.
“It’s a candid look at what we accomplished — and what we didn’t — and the work that’s ongoing on your behalf. I believe that if you don’t measure it, you can’t manage it,” she said. “So, no matter what happens any given year of my administration, we’re going to measure it.”
Watch the Mendenhall’s full address here.
For a complete look at the Mendenhalls’s 2021 plan click here.