Each January in Utah not only brings a new year but also another state legislative session. This year, after tracking more than 200 bills that could impact our city government and residents, we’ve come away with a historic investment for homeless services, a path for downtown reinvestment and potential for a National Hockey League team, the vision for a new Fairpark and Power District, and a potential Major League Baseball stadium.

While the city and the Legislature will likely never have a meeting of the minds on critical issues like equity and LGBTQ+ rights, the passage of these historic bills propels us toward addressing our most difficult challenges and capitalizing on our brightest opportunities. Our city’s future has never been more hopeful because our challenges and opportunities are not mutually exclusive.

A healthy economy and a successful downtown can bring increased, ongoing support to the urgent needs facing our capital city, like homelessness services, more affordable housing, and support for youth and families. In fact, these seemingly disparate opportunities and needs are reliant upon each other for success.

Salt Lake City is sizing up to achieve both.

We partnered with Salt Lake County and other cities to support Governor Spencer Cox’s $193 million proposed budget to address homelessness and affordable housing. Though what was ultimately funded by the Legislature is not the full amount, the $64.5 million that will infuse the statewide system is more than the state has ever allocated in one year. Our community will see an expansion of the progress we’ve made this winter with ongoing shelter operation funding, mitigation funding, a new “broken windows” repair fund, winter response funding, a path forward to add more year-round beds and the microshelter community’s move to state property.

In my State of the City address in January, I shared how Salt Lake City is building a catalytic future for downtown that not only embraces our growth but seizes the opportunity to cement our identity as the center for sports, entertainment and culture in our state. “We will work with our beloved Utah Jazz organization, downtown stakeholders, county and state leaders, and anyone who has aspirations of bringing professional sports to make this future a reality.”

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Salt Lake City worked hard during this legislative session, and I’m thrilled to see our ambitions forming into a reality.

Now, we look forward to the work ahead to reach the great potential that awaits us. It’s a future that the media questioned as little as two months ago, as one local outlet rumored Salt Lake City may no longer be home to a single professional sports franchise. Now, Salt Lake City will not only welcome families to Utah Jazz games in our downtown but if Major League Baseball and the National Hockey League come to Utah, they, too, will call Salt Lake City home.

It’s the same growing downtown and capital city that more families will come home to in the next decade because Salt Lake City is prioritizing families by designing spaces and opportunities that are safe and inviting for all, increasing opportunities for child care, and family-sized housing.


From the sports and entertainment district that can encircle the Delta Center, we can link with the envisioned Main Street pedestrian promenade that was originally proposed six decades ago. From Main Street, we connect people to the future Green Loop’s open space, bike lanes, adjacent affordable housing and family amenities like much-needed day care facilities and microparks. The Green Loop will connect our downtown core to our west side through the Folsom and Jordan River trails — and eventually to the state and Larry H. Miller Company’s development at the Power District and Fairpark grounds.

With strong and patient partnerships, we are breathing life into a reality so many only dreamed we might ever reach: a downtown that is designed to meet the needs of people and families, that leads our great state and welcomes all residents and visitors alike. A downtown that is truly a destination for all.

The future of Salt Lake City is bright. And while there is no shortage of disagreement from this blue dot in a deeply red state pertaining to legislative matters, I gratefully acknowledge the areas where we are closely aligned. I’m committed to working for the good of Salt Lake City residents and seeing our city grow to its greatest potential, and I’m honored to lead during this most exciting time in our city’s history.

Erin Mendenhall is the mayor of Salt Lake City.

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