Salt Lake City

Community and Neighborhoods

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August Director’s Message

Salt Lakers,

July 1 marked the beginning of the City’s fiscal year, bringing with it a new focus and new resolutions. Fiscal year resolutions provide an opportunity for accountability to our residents and ensure the City and its Department of Community and Neighborhoods (CAN) are meeting the needs of our community.

As a brief introduction to the resolutions, I wanted to talk a little about the inspiration behind them. As many of you may know, the City has a new flag. You can see it flying high at the City & County Building, or you can read about it here. On the flag is Utah’s State flower: the sego lily. The sego lily, native to Utah, is not only beautiful, but it is resilient and useful as well. The flower, capable of thriving in environments that other plants cannot tolerate, is both attractive to local pollinators and life-sustaining.

The sego lily has inspired principles upon which our resolutions are founded. These are:

S – Sustainability

E – Equity

G – Growth

O – Opportunity

Guided by these principles, CAN’s goals are to increase Upward Mobility, Housing Choice, Community Investment, and Transportation Options. We also seek to create a Fifteen-Minute City and foster Safe and Healthy Built Environments.

Focusing on these goals and using the SEGO principles, we hope to create a city that is beautiful, that is resilient in the face of challenges, that is attractive to the creativity and capacity of the human spirit, and that is an equitable, life-sustaining home to all residents.

While future posts will dive into greater detail on each of these goals, I want to return to the SEGO principles that will inform our efforts over the coming year.


Salt Lake City is committed to protecting the public health and safety of our residents, including ensuring access to clean air, clean water, and a livable environment. Sustainability is often discussed in terms of environmental sustainability and we are committed to protecting our natural resources, reducing pollution, slowing climate change, and establishing a path towards greater resiliecy. Sustainability is foundational in our efforts. We are on the pathway to meet our climate and waste goals. Additionally, we seek to reduce our emissions by improving transit and active transportation infrastructure. But aside from the environmental aspects, we also want to ensure that our city is one in which life is sustainable for everyone, regardless of life circumstances. We want to ensure that buildings are safe and can be sustained long-term, and that we are building both the hard and soft infrastructure that ensures that individuals are able to sustain relationships, jobs, health, and community. A sustainable community is one in which we balance environment, growth, opportunity, and equity. A sustainable community is one in which residents can participate fully in recreational, economic, and civic offerings. A sustainable community is one that is resilient in times of crisis and can sustain our Salt Lake City way of life.


Historical practices and policies have resulted in persistent inequality in our city. Mayor Mendenhall has made overcoming these historical inequities and inequalities a primary focus of her administration. Her emphasis on equity has inspired CAN to further its efforts toward a more equitable community. Here at CAN, we understand that our communities, our institutions, and our democracy begin to fail when inequality is left unchecked. We want to ensure that all residents are empowered and have opportunities for upward mobility. This may mean access to safe transit and active transportation options, programs that increase educational outcomes, affordable housing, or breaking down the systemic zoning barriers that have separated our city.


As the capital city of Utah, we are a target for investment. If you have spent any time in our city over the past few years, you will know that we are in the midst of a construction boom. And it is our responsibility to ensure that we are growing and sustaining the diverse fabric of our community. Our work focuses on building our great city skyline while ensuring our residents are not being involuntarily displaced or priced out. In line with the previous two principles, we work to ensure that the growth helps Salt Lake City become an increasingly sustainable and equitable place to live. There are inherent contradictions between sustainability and growth, and we are working to ensure that our city remains resilient and diverse and provides opportunities for all our residents.


In everything we do, we hope to make life better for all our residents. This means enhancing the opportunities that our residents have for education, work, safe and healthy recreation, and affordable housing options. The tools that we utilize enhance economic outcomes and opportunities for civic engagement. Data shows that the ZIP code into which an individual is born is one of the largest determining factors for health and economic outcomes. CAN’s work ensures that access to opportunity and upward mobility is a right of all residents despite their zip code.

This framework is meant to guide our efforts over the coming year and beyond. In order to help us achieve these goals, a change was made at the fiscal year: Youth and Family Services joined CAN. We are excited to learn from their experience seeking increased equity for our young populations, and we look forward to further integrating our work to achieve outcomes for the greater good of our capital city. Our team has numerous impactful projects in progress, and we are excited about the positive change that is coming to our city. Please follow us here for updates on the initiatives and projects CAN is working on.


Blake Thomas, Director

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