Mayor delivers annual State of the City address

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SALT LAKE CITY -- Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker delivered his third State of the City address Tuesday night.

A progressive environmental agenda has been a top Salt Lake priority for years, through various administrations. Becker's plan aims to take it a step further by creating a sustainability ordinance and pursuing new proposals like glass recycling -- which have been talked about before but never got off the ground.

The mayor said he can sum up 2009 and his goals for 2010 in one word "livability." Some of his proposals include making it easier for residents to receive government permission to install solar panels or small wind turbines on their home or business; and allowing residents to raise bees, chickens and hens, and grow fruit trees in the parking strip of their front yard.

"The benefits of all of that go a long way toward helping to have livable communities," Becker says.

The mayor says he and his team have crafted a sustainability ordinance to direct city departments to follow the best environmental practices in making day-to-day decisions, including things like energy use and placement of buildings to make use of natural light.

"Where we look comprehensively at our city ordinances and rewrite them around sustainability," Becker says.

This week the mayor plans to unveil a glass recycling program, starting with the city's biggest source of glass: downtown businesses.

Soon, the city hopes to hear it has won millions in federal grants to build a streetcar system -- with lines proposed for Sugar House, downtown, from Salt Lake to southern Davis County and eventually into neighborhoods.

"I'm hopeful, within a year, we'll have the first streetcar system under construction, and within two years we'll have the first streetcar operating in Salt Lake City," Becker says.

He says better public transit and encouraging less driving are the best ways to help beat the bad air.

Becker also says key to getting all these programs was to find a secure source of ongoing funding for the sustainability department. He says he's done that, to the tune of $300,000 annually.


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