Salt Lake City

Council District 2

The Westside – Fairpark, Glendale, Poplar Grove

Meeting Thoughts – August 18, 2020

Genesee Ave Alley Vacation

The Council approved to vacate the alley at approximately 750 west between Genesee Ave and 900 South as part of the plan to develop some businesses and housing on the former Andrus Appliance property. Let the redevelopment begin! We are excited for that vacant lot and alley to be active with people and bring more positive energy to the neighborhood!

Digital Equity

The council was briefed on a new city policy (many years in the making) that outlines the elements of the city’s plan as it relates to ensuring all city residents have access to the internet. The elements are:

  • Affordable, robust broadband internet service;
  • Internet-enabled devices that meet the needs of the user;
  • Access to digital literacy training;
  • Quality technical support; and
  • Applications and online content designed to enable and encourage self-sufficiency, participation, and collaboration.

I believe that internet access should be considered a public utility similar to water, electricity, or other basic services. While I understand that not everyone is online, some by choice some, if you are reading this you are not one of them. So much of our current social communication and work is done online that not having digital access, places people at a serious disadvantage. Thus, the need for true digital equity for everyone regardless of income, geography, or other differences. Building the Wi-Fi or cable infrastructure is not cheap and few have been able to do it sustainably. But if we don’t think of internet access this way, we will fall back into patterns of treating it like a want instead of a need for most people.

On a related note, the city plans to open “Glendale Connect” which will be free Wi-Fi at the Sorenson Unity Center starting next week daily from 5 a.m. until 11 p.m. during the pandemic to assist residents in accessing the internet. They have piloted this in Rose Park for the past week or two. I can forward more details as they are announced.

As part of the budget amendment, the mayor also included the purchase and installation of a Wi-Fi “backhaul” that will be installed on a hill over the city to allow greater Wi-Fi access for neighborhoods across the city. We have already used this technology for Fire Dept and I am very interested in how this will expand access in our westside neighborhoods.

Commission on Racial Equity in Policing Resolution

The council endorsed a resolution officially creating the Commission on Racial Equity in Policing. They have incorporated other members and are working out their plans for the coming months. I look forward to their deliberations and recommendations. In the limited updates we have received, the commission members are taking deliberate steps to ensure they are truly independent of city influence in their process. I respect this and hope it assists in building public faith in their work.

Budget Amendment #2 of 2020

After we pass an annual budget, we like to group changes to that budget into amendments to track them more clearly as well as to retain our sanity. The proposals from the mayor this time were interesting and timely for current Covid needs. The list included these items:

  • Hazzard Pay for some city employees who were deemed as essential during this period;
  • Personal Protective Equipment or other family needs for westside residents who have been particularly hard hit by the virus;
  • Water Assistance funds to help low income residents pay water bills;
  • Expanding Youth City program hours for kids who need it for more than just after school this fall;
  • Rental and Mortgage Assistance for residents who have lost income recently;
  • Creation of the “Acceleration Program” that targets stimulus money to families who were not included in the first federal stimulus package and;
  • A contribution to the Pete Suazo Business Center. This is an organization that assists Latinx small businesses develop and grow.

It also has been a tremendous benefit in reaching out to those communities who contribute so much to the Westside and city, but who may not engage in city processes for a variety of reasons. This will further solidify the city’s relationship with this great organization both now during this crisis but also moving forward.

I am grateful to the mayor for her prioritization of families struggling during this time and support these efforts to mitigate disaster for residents.
And finally, Happy Birthday to my fellow council member Darin Mano! May your years get progressively better!

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