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The City Journals

Sandy passes new anti-idling ordinance

May 07, 2018 11:17AM ● By Justin Adams

Sandy Mayor Kurt Bradburn signs a new city ordinance that encourages people to idle in their cars less often. (Justin Adams/Sandy City Journal)

A new Sandy city ordinance is aimed at educating residents about how they can help improve Utah’s air quality by turning off their cars more often.

Passed by the Sandy City Council on March 27, ordinance 18-10 amends the city’s traffic code by adding a section on idling cars, which reads, “No driver shall allow a vehicle’s engine to idle on public property or on private property open to the general public within the corporate limits of Sandy City.”

Councilmember Zach Robinson, who authored the ordinance, said that parents don’t need to worry about getting ticketed while waiting in their cars to pick up their children from school.

“It’s built to be educational in nature,” said Robinson. “It’s not meant to be a huge moneymaker for the city or some sort of punitive action.”

The ordinance lists a number of exemptions, including for traffic conditions and emergency vehicles. It also stipulates that a person can be issued a citation for infringing the ordinance only after previously receiving three warnings.

However, Robinson said he doesn’t think warnings or citations from law enforcement will be common. “I wouldn’t anticipate that there would be any dedicated officers patrolling around. We don’t have the bandwidth for that. They need to be dedicated to crimes in the city,” he said.

A number of residents attended both the March 27 council meeting as well as a Feb. 13 council meeting when the idea was first proposed to voice their support for it. 

Steven Kelty said these kinds of city initiatives are important to younger people like himself. “I think if you want to retain a young population, this is the direction you need to go in. I’ve never attended a council meeting before and you can see I’m here now,” he said.           

At the Feb. 13 meeting, students and PTA members from Altara Elementary School attended to show their support. One of those students, Sage Stidham, addressed the city council, reading from a prepared speech on why she thought idling cars are bad for children, such as the fact that idling is related to increased rates of asthma and heart problems.        

“Many people in Sandy and at Altara have asthma and we want to keep them safe,” she said.       

Cindy Boyer, who represented the school’s PTA, compared the issue to smoking. “We knew that smoking was bad for our lungs, so we did something about it. Today, we have air pollution that is just as bad for our lungs, and idling is a big contributor to that, so we need to make that change as well. I hope that one day we will see no-idling signs next to no-smoking signs,” she said.

The ordinance was signed during an Altara Elementary assembly on April 17. Signees included Bradburn, Robinson, city council chair Linda Martinez-Saville, Altara Principal Nicole Magann, Boyer and a student representative.

“You guys are a really big deal,” Bradburn told the crowd of elementary school students. “You guys are the reason that we are passing a law today.”

“What we did in our city is going to help future generations,” said Robinson before the signing. “All of us breathe the air outside, and it’s important for us to do our part. We’ve worked together to pass an ordinance that’s going to help so many people.”

“This is something that we’ve been passionate about for the past couple years. We live at the base of these mountains that suck in all the pollution during the winter, so if we can just do our part to keep the air clean and keep our kids healthier, that’s important to all of us,” Magann told the Sandy City Journal following the signing.

Magann said that even though the kids are young, they are still able to understand the importance of clean air. The school even had the Utah Clean Air Council come for a school assembly and explain the science behind pollution and air quality.

“It matters to them because they know they can’t go outside for recess,” said Magann.           

The final ordinance signed into law incorporated some of the concerns expressed by other council members on the Feb. 13 meeting, including enforceability and whether or not such ordinances actually have a measurable impact on the air quality.          

Robinson said the final ordinance is a “really great compromise” based on the feedback from his fellow council members and “a fantastic tool” to eliminate some of the pollution that contributes to Utah’s poor air quality.           

“This is a start. It’s not going to cure the world. This gets us pointed in the right direction where we can do bigger things.”