Conservative Salt Lake City Embracing New Urbanism Thanks to Mayor Rocky - Grist

New Urbanism is gaining steam these days, in blue states and red states. As seen in Grist Magazine's recent interview with Mayor Rocky Anderson, conservative Salt Lake City is pulsing with green technology and dense, transit-friendly development that's putting many progressive American cities to shame. The city has implemented the internationally-recognized Salt Lake City Green program, a methane-capturing facility, numerous LEED-certified buildings, and people are now willing to raise sales taxes to increase transit service.

Is this really Utah? Read more to learn some of Rocky's tricks.

Rocky Anderson shows of the solar panels on his roof
Photo: Kate Sheppard

From the article:

You're vocal in support of new urbanist principles of dense, walkable community. I joke that two things are most striking about new urbanism: one, how good it sounds, and two, how little of it actually exists. How have you persuaded people to buy in?

We have a corresponding joke, and that is that there are two things people hate: sprawl, and density in their neighborhoods.

But you know, you come up against a lot of resistance to any change. When we put in the first line of light rail in the Salt Lake City area, there was greater opposition to that than anything I can remember in politics: the cost, the contention that it's outdated technology, that people won't give up their cars to ride it. We don't hear that any more, because it's been immensely successful. It's been so successful -- and this is one of those cases of success breeding more success -- communities that were adamantly opposed to light rail before the first line was ever built are now clamoring for it in their neighborhoods.

Salt Lake City's intermodal hub
Photo: Kate Sheppard

To read the full article, go to School of Rocky.


MLewyn's picture

Unnecessary astonishment

I liked the article, but the astonishment that Anderson was elected in "conservative Utah" is out of place. Just because Utah as a whole is conservative doesn't mean that the city of Salt Lake City (which elected Anderson) is equally conservative. Just as most blue states have some very conservative cities and counties, most red states have liberal enclaves.

Of course, this doesn't mean the overall point of the article is wrong; in fact, plenty of officeholders much more conservative than Anderson (most notably Mitt Romney, former governor of Massachusetts and now a presidential candidate) have promoted smart growth and transit-oriented development.


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