Downtown Alliance Responds to Mayor's State of the City Address

January 28, 2021 Written by

Mayor Mendenhall’s State of the City address reminded us of what an unexpected and extraordinary year we have experienced since her first State of the City remarks a year ago. We extend our thanks to the Mayor, City Council and City employees for adapting and innovating during the last year.

The Mayor has led boldly in a year of social unrest, the pandemic, and natural disasters no one could have anticipated. She has actively sought the Salt Lake Chamber and Downtown Alliance’s perspective on downtown’s most pressing challenges, and we accept her invitation to work together to create our community’s future of opportunity, equity, and well-being. 

Click here to watch the full 2021 State of the City address.

Access to Affordable Housing

We support financial and administrative efforts to create a mix of housing options in and around downtown. Affordable housing contributes to the city’s vibrancy.  It puts workers near their jobs. It encourages shorter commutes and alternative transportation choices that improve air quality.

The Mayor announced that an “organization with expertise mitigating gentrification” will help guide the City’s efforts to address the housing crisis. Downtown stakeholders look forward to contributing to the process and offering solutions.

We welcome pedestrianization and improvements on 300 West and the Folsom Trail project to improve connectivity of downtown and surrounding neighborhoods.

Job Development in Health Innovation and Technology 

We applaud the Mayor’s commitment to improving resident’s lives by making Salt Lake City a hub for health innovation and high-tech businesses. We wholeheartedly support the BioHive initiatives and collaborations, particularly as Salt Lake City has the fastest growing health innovation ecosystem in the country. There are 1,100 health innovation companies in Salt Lake City, and our downtown offers amenities, living options, and a quality of life that can be leveraged to attract companies and talent.

Air Quality

We applaud the Mayor and the City for leading by example in adopting sustainable practices and green technologies, as well as for leveraging the resources of the RDA to incentivize sustainable development.

Equity and Inclusion

Salt Lake City is making notable efforts in bringing more voices from marginalized communities into city governance. The City’s Digital Equity Plan, work, and outreach are good for residents, the environment, and economic development.  

The Downtown Alliance and Salt Lake Chamber share the City’s commitment to developing representation in our committee structures, leadership, and staffing.

We look forward to participating in the development and implementation of the citywide Equity Master Plan.

We look forward to recommendations from the Commission on Racial Equity in Policing to build a more just police department attuned to the broad needs in our communities.


The Downtown Alliance supports the outreach efforts by the City and service providers through the Community Commitment Program to connect unsheltered residents with the resources they need and provide access to safe, warm shelter.

There remains so much work to do in preventing homelessness and assisting our neighbors who are unsheltered tonight. We support the Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute recommendations for structuring and coordinating efforts statewide to address homelessness, and we urge the Utah Legislature to establish and fund state leadership to this end. 

Innovation Department Announcement

Downtown stakeholders welcome the creation of a department to modernize business processes, standardize approaches to project management, improve transparency and efficiencies, as well as encourage data-driven decisions. We look forward to positive outcomes from this structural improvement at City Hall.

City’s Progress Report Card

The Salt Lake Chamber and Downtown Alliance acknowledge the accomplishments reported on the Progress Report Card in this difficult year. As the City works toward the remaining goals, we urge prioritizing the following goals among those outlined by the Mayor:

  • Begin cooperation between Planning and Business Development to assess placement of, and funding for, business and cultural districts.
  • Fund and work with the State and with local developers to support the development of a year-round public market to increase the amount and diversity of food available to Salt Lake residents and provide a sustainable and stable venue for farmers to sell products.
  • Identify new ways of partnering with private entities to provide more affordable housing.
  • Work across jurisdictional boundaries to develop a plan for the unsheltered homeless population who are not being served by the current system, particularly during the winter months.
  • Engage with people experiencing homelessness through establishing a regular public forum or neighborhood council-type structure.
  • Use the Processes and Permits work group to develop a strategy for restructuring internal departments and processes with the goal of eliminating barriers, streamlining decision making, and breaking down silos.
  • Catalyze business/cultural districts and streamline/coordinate citywide arts initiatives by improving the structure and funding of the Arts Council.