Salt Lake Mayor Rocky Anderson revved up the idea of cruising on State Street, but the City Council Tuesday put the brakes on it.

In fact, the cruising ban may become permanent.

"Among all the things we've done, there's no question in my mind this has yielded the best results for us," said Councilman Keith Christensen.

Anderson had proposed a probationary period when cruising would be allowed but cruisers would have to prove they could behave themselves.

"I feel strongly that we must allow at least an opportunity for those who engage in cruising another chance," Anderson said in a letter to the Salt Lake Police Department. "I believe we should make the extra effort because government officials should always be leery of limiting personal choices, particularly those who may not have much, if any, political power."

That idea wasn't popular among State Street residents.

"We don't like it," said Pamela Carlson. Cruisers leave behind beer bottles and trash, she added. "We live there. This is our neighborhood. Please don't (lift the ban)."

At the planning session, council members went a step further. They not only rejected Anderson's proposal to let the cruising ban expire this June, they want to make it permanent.

The council last June implemented a one-year cruising ban on State Street from 11 p.m. to 4 a.m.

Cruising State Street has been a Utah rite of passage for generations. Everyone from council members to police officers recall youthful days driving back and forth in a mating ritual. But in recent years, the pastime has turned violent and the proliferation of drugs and alcohol has prompted concerns.

Since the ban, crime has dropped, said Assistant Police Chief Roy Wasden. He gave the council a report showing traffic-related calls have dropped by 27 percent, drug and alcohol offenses by 14 percent, violent crimes by 10 percent and property crimes by 2 percent.

Anderson did have his supporters, however.

The majority of students surveyed at Judge Memorial High School oppose the ban, LaShell Wright-Hopkins told the City Council Tuesday.

Teens cruise because there's nothing else to do, she said.

Council Chairman Carlton Christensen was sympathetic. "Youths still need someplace to go," he said. But he still voted to maintain the ban.

Councilwoman Nancy Saxton praised the teens for getting involved but reminded them the ban applies only to a five-hour period of time.

"If kids aren't home before 4 a.m.," she said, "they should be."


You can reach Donna M. Kemp by e-mail at donna@desnews.com