Thursday, Aug. 21, 2014

Envision Utah outlines effort to prep for growth

By Lisa Riley Roche, Deseret News

Published: Tue, March 25 7:14 p.m. MDT

 Before turning their attention Tuesday to preparing for the state's population to nearly double in size by 2050, members of Gov. Gary Herbert's \

Before turning their attention Tuesday to preparing for the state's population to nearly double in size by 2050, members of Gov. Gary Herbert's "Your Utah, Your Future" committee indulged in a little nostalgia.

(Kristin Murphy, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — Before turning their attention Tuesday to preparing for the state's population to nearly double in size by 2050, members of Gov. Gary Herbert's "Your Utah, Your Future" committee indulged in a little nostalgia.

A presentation by Robert Grow, president and CEO of Envision Utah, included a photo of people riding up and down four levels of escalators at the Crossroads Mall, torn down years ago to make way for City Creek Center.

Grow told the committee members gathered at the University of Utah to hear an update on the scope of the project that downtown Salt Lake City was in decline when the photo was taken more than two decades ago.

That was the same time Envision Utah began its original look at planning for growth, before light rail and a shift from large-lot subdivisions changed the face of the Wasatch Front.

Now, the group is leading the latest effort to deal with the impact the 2.5 million new Utahns expected in the state by 2050 will have on air quality, water, energy, lands, economic development, education, transportation and housing.

The focus Tuesday was on outlining those issues for the full committee. More than a fourth of the 400 community, business and political leaders participating in the year-long study attended.

"Your actions ensure a healthy and prosperous future for our state," the governor said in a taped message, noting how much has been accomplished since he announced the initiative last October.

The Clean Air Action Team has already made recommendations to Herbert in time for the just-completed 2014 Legislature, including supporting Tier 3 fuel standards and halting wood burning during winter inversions.

More work needs to be done, however, to ensure the air doesn't worsen as the state grows, said team co-chairwoman Michelle Hoffman, a pediatrician and founder of Breathe Utah.

"Those people will need to heat their homes, power their cars and work at businesses. All of those things produce emissions," Hoffman said of the increased population.

Utah is also facing a big price tag for supplying water to residents — $31 billion to repair and replace current infrastructure, as well as build new facilities over the next 50 years, the group was told.

Even if the governor's goal of reducing water consumption 25 percent by 2025 is met, Tim Hawkes of Trout Unlimited said the state will still need some 100 billion gallons of new water to keep up with growth.

That water will have to come from a combination of conservation, optimizing how water is used and development of resources. Questions yet to be answered including how water should be allocated for agriculture and business.

Other areas discussed Tuesday including the need to provide affordable housing and transportation, to increase the number of Utahns with post-high school education and plan for changing energy resources.

"These kinds of things happen about once in a generation," Grow told the audience, urging them to take advantage of the opportunity to "really change the world for good."

While Envision Utah's original planning in the 1990s involved some 20,000 Utahns, Grow said tapping the power of social media will help bring even more residents into the latest process.

Grow encouraged committee members to follow Envision Utah on Twitter and Facebook, as well as the organization's website,

He said by this time next year, the group hopes to have recommendations in all the areas being examined ready for public comment. A final report is expected at the end of 2015.

Email:, Twitter: DNewsPolitics

1. Hutterite
American Fork, UT,
March 25, 2014

I can't envision a scenario where twice as many people here represents an increase in quality of life for any one of them versus what it is today versus what it must have been 50 years ago. Twice as many people can be done, and probably will be done, but everyone will have to sacrifice for it. Water will be among the items on the block. So will cars. And space. It's going to be a real challenge.

2. essence
Ivins, UT,
March 26, 2014

Given what we've seen of Envision Utah's lack of successful planning to accommodate growth in the Salt Lake valley and surrounding areas, I'm sure we'll just get more of the same. They seem to be invited to all the right parties (Washington County's Vision Dixie and now the governor's water planning team) with little real results. Wish I could get paid to do so little.

3. Objectified
Tooele, UT,
March 26, 2014

This is very negative news. Not that planning ahead is negative, but the fact that Utah's population will basically double over the next 35 years certainly is. And if it doubles again during the following 35 years, it will make me glad I won't still be around. The problems and challenges to be faced will only get bigger and much more difficult to deal with.

Many of us have chosen to remain living in Utah because of it's basic non-urban atmosphere compared to many other states. That positive attribute is already slipping away. In spite of that, many government agencies keep pushing to bring more businesses (which also means more move-ins) all in the name of economic growth. But at what cost in other ways?

They often don't consider the other side of the coin when pushing that agenda. There comes a point when the quality of life given up for more money just isn't worth it. That point will be here soon, if it isn't already. I hope our leaders keep that in mind regarding their political priorities and actions.

4. joeandrade
Salt Lake City, UT,
March 26, 2014

The headline should have been: Fantasyland Plans for Major Growth.

All the growth planning people do great work; Envision Utah is to be commended, BUT: no one is questioning the growth. If we build it, they'll come. And no matter how good the gasoline is, how many electric cars we have, how strict the air pollution regulations, how convenient the mass transit - a doubling of the population along the Wasatch Front will be intolerable. Growth is not always good, especially here; and growth is not inevitable.

In some respects Envision Utah and the recent Mountain Urbanism, Mountain Modernism Mayor's Conference do a disservice to reality: by ignoring the realities of growth, they actually endorse and encourage it! See:
the Mountain Urbanism op-ed of Feb. 23.

Gov Herbert, his Clean Air Action Team, Envision Utah, the mayors, etc. must question and challenge the growth-based ideology which plagues our 'planning'. Until then all such planning efforts are actually counter-productive.

Thanks for quoting Michelle Hoffman in the story - she understands.