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Cottonwood Heights Journal

No more idling in Cottonwood Heights

Jun 21, 2018 11:48AM ● By Cassie Goff

Residents urge the Cottonwood Heights City Council to pass an idle-free ordinance city-wide. (Cassie Goff/City Journals)

By Cassie Goff | [email protected]

“I came to you one month ago to propose an idle-free ordinance,” resident Jenny Nazzaro told the Cottonwood Heights City Council during their business meeting on May 22. “I am grateful you heard my message and put the issue on the agenda.”

Program and Policy Director for Breathe Utah Ashley Miller and Nazzaro requested that Cottonwood Heights implement an idle-free ordinance on April 24. Miller had worked with other cities that passed idle-free ordinances including Sandy, Logan, Draper, Murray, Park City, Holladay, South Salt Lake and Salt Lake City.

City staff members drafted Ordinance 29 for Cottonwood Heights. The ordinance would amend Title 9 of the Cottonwood Heights Code to include a new chapter, 9.62 — Idling Vehicles. The business meeting on May 22 included a public comment session for the proposed ordinance. The city council voted on the ordinance on June 12.

“We are proposing a one-page ordinance,” City Manager John Park said. “A driver cannot idle for more than one minute except for the following conditions listed within the ordinance. It is not intended to be enforced heavily handed.”

If a driver were to be caught idling, they receive a warning. After three warnings, a Class C infraction citation is issued, which is comparable to a speeding ticket.

During that same public comment session on May 22, many residents spoke in support of the ordinance.

“I’ve been following air pollution for 30 years,” said resident Ken Garner. “Very few ordinances are as easy to follow as this. One of the things the government does is give reminders as how we should act as citizens.”

“I’m a nurse and have been a nurse educator for almost 30 years,” said resident Diana Burke. “Pollution has an effect on the respiratory and cardiovascular systems of all age groups.”

Resident Rebecca Allan spoke with her children. “I do not have a firm grasp on the effects of global warming. I cannot speak intelligently on the life of a car battery. I’m a mom who believes in community outreach and change. I believe in individual responsibility. I did not realize how often I sat idle until I was made aware I was unable to participate in change. Practice what we preach to our children and pass the idle-free ordinance.”

Jennifer Shah, assistant professor for environment and sustainability at the University of Utah, also commented, “One minute of idling produces enough carbon monoxide that would come from smoking three packs of cigarettes. Going and leaving school our children are potentially inhaling oxides that you would associate with cigarette smoking. Pass an ordinance and enforce it.”

“We got Sandy, Park City and Draper. We need this to be a domino and ripple effect,” said resident Cindy Boyer before encouraging her son Riley to comment. “All the kids my age would really appreciate it if this gets passed, so we can go outside so we don’t have to stay inside during recess,” he said.

Girl Scout Troup 2483 echoed Riley’s comment. “Exhaust from cars make up over 50 percent of air pollution in Utah, which leads to health problems. Sometimes we can’t go outside to play for recess. Turn your key, be idle free.”

Even though most of the public comments were in favor of the ordinance, some residents questioned the need for enforcement.

“I would propose a proclamation, instead of an ordinance,” said Diana Schaffer. “Make it downloadable and printable so we can gently remind each other by placing them on windshields. I cannot support escalating disputes between neighbors. I ask the city to discourage idling and encourage air quality efforts. If the city moves forward with the ordinance, do not approach citizens who are idling.”