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SANDY — If you're caught idling your car for more than one minute in Sandy, you'll have three strikes before you could get slapped with a fine.
Sandy this week passed its first idle-free ordinance after Mayor Kurt Bradburn ceremoniously signed the decision at a school assembly Tuesday.
The ordinance, which the City Council passed with one dissenting vote March 27, prohibits drivers from idling their cars for more than one minute, with various exceptions including traffic, emergencies, law enforcement, or the safety of a driver or passenger.
The first three offenses come with warnings, but the fourth violation is punishable as an infraction, subject to a fine based on the state's bail schedule for parking violations.
Sandy joins six other Utah cities that have idle-free ordinances — Salt Lake City, South Salt Lake, Holladay, Murray, Park City and Logan — but became the first in Salt Lake County with only a one-minute limit.
Park City has a one-minute limit, but a violation of the ordinance is not enforceable by citation or fine; compliance is strictly voluntary. In Salt Lake City, idling is allowed for two minutes, but offenders only get one warning, with a second offense carrying a $160 fine.
But city leaders' intention isn't to issue tickets, said Councilman Zach Robinson, who sponsored the ordinance. He said the main purpose is to drive awareness to help Sandy "do our part to clean our air."
"Believe me, it wasn't designed to be more strict on purpose," Robinson said. "It's not something we're doing to just punish people. We don't want to punish, we'd rather teach."
We all breathe the same air, and air quality isn't getting any better across the valley. I feel like this is something that needed to be done to help people in our community.
–Councilman Zach Robinson
Sandy officials first began considering the ordinance after students from Altara Elementary School asked the city to limit idling when they attended a council meeting in February and wrote letters urging action.
"The Altara Elementary students' efforts to raise awareness on the dangers of idling and the contribution to our city's poor air quality is a great example of what can happen when citizens get involved to make their community better," Bradburn said in a news release.
Robinson said community support for the ordinance vastly outweighed "very minimal pushback" from "one or two people" who voiced opposition.
"But we've had so many reach out with thanks and support, excited Sandy decided to take this step," Robinson said.
The Salt Lake City-Provo-Orem area ranks the 18th most polluted area for ozone, according to a new report by the American Lung Association.
Robinson credited Sandy for leading by being the first south valley city to create an idle-free ordinance, but he hopes other cities will follow suit.
"You know what, we all breathe the same air, and air quality isn't getting any better across the valley," he said. "I feel like this is something that needed to be done to help people in our community."