Solving homelessness, environmental issues top Salt Lake City mayor's 2023 goals

Salt Lake City is pictured on Jan. 2. Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall unveiled more than 60 goals she hopes the city is able to complete by the end of the year.

Salt Lake City is pictured on Jan. 2. Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall unveiled more than 60 goals she hopes the city is able to complete by the end of the year. (Laura Seitz, Deseret News)

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SALT LAKE CITY — The mayor of Utah's capital city outlined a bright future for the city during her State of the City address last week; now, she's sharing her goals to help get there this year.

Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall on Tuesday unveiled more than 60 goals she hopes the city is able to complete by the end of the year and the end of her current term in office. She explained that her 2023 goals "are geared around commitments to our planet and each other."

"I'm so excited about what's to come," she added, in a statement Tuesday.

The goals indicate that addressing homelessness will be a top priority for the city again this year.

One goal is for the city to work with county, state and service provider partners to provide services and housing options for people with serious mental health needs and who are also experiencing homelessness. It builds off of lessons learned from a trip state and county leaders took to Miami-Dade County, Florida, last year to see how its local government runs a similar program.

Another goal calls for "more innovative solutions" to both housing insecurity and homelessness, such as accessory dwelling units and outdoor homeless resource centers that would be operated in coordination with the Utah Office of Homeless Services. Yet another goal calls for the city to support The Other Side Village's plans to have tiny homes ready by next winter.

Several other city goals tackle various environmental challenges.

  • Update the city's drought and water shortage contingency plan. Another goal calls for the city to update its water supply and demand plan to include "new water commitments for the Great Salt Lake." Mendenhall called on the city to begin the process to send almost 13 billion gallons of the city's treatment water to the Great Salt Lake every year.
  • Incentivize businesses in the city to phase in electrified landscape maintenance equipment, in coordination with the Utah Department of Environmental Quality. At the same time, another goal would propose a budget to help start an air quality incentives program that includes rebates for residents using less-polluting landscaping equipment, as well as for indoor air quality tools and e-bikes.
  • Update the city code to "better reflect" the city's vision for sustainability, climate resiliency and environmental justice.
  • Create a citywide tree watering outreach campaign "to educate and encourage the public to 'Choose Trees'" in an effort to preserve the city's urban forest.
  • Work with Indigenous leaders to "explore opportunities for a cooperative management agreement" and build an Indigenous garden at North Gateway Park at the northern end of the city.
  • Lay the groundwork for a "comprehensive" turf reduction plan across all six city golf courses to help reduce water consumption. The plan could begin as early as 2024.

There are also goals that go beyond solving homelessness or environmental issues. For example, one goal is to begin a public-private partnership to improve the Ballpark neighborhood. The Larry H. & Gail Miller Family Foundation offered to lead the major $100 million fundraising initiative, Mendenhall announced during her State of the City speech last week.

The plan aims to help the neighborhood after it loses the Salt Lake Bees minor league baseball team at the end of the 2024 season. On a similar note, another goal seeks to initiate a "formal charter among city leaders and stakeholders" to help identify ways to improve Salt Lake City's standing "as the foremost and thriving center for sports, entertainment and culture" in the fast-growing Intermountain West.

Another goal seeks for the city to begin implementing action items tied to the Vision Zero program to eliminate traffic deaths. Mendenhall announced on Jan. 11 that the city would take the steps to join the program after 26 people were killed on Salt Lake City roads last year.

There are even goals for city operations, including hiring more staff while also improving wages and benefits for existing employees.

The mayor began releasing yearly objectives after taking office in 2020. She announced last week that most of her city goals for 2022 were accomplished.

"If you don't write them down and you don't commit to them, then you're really not going to accomplish them," she said, explaining why she releases her goals every year.

The entire list of goals can be found here.

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Utah homelessnessUtahEnvironmentSalt Lake County
Carter Williams is an award-winning reporter who covers general news, outdoors, history and sports for


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