Sugar House is changing, with more residents, more businesses and more automobile traffic, and not everyone is ready for it.
In a rare neighborhood public hearing, the Salt Lake City Council on Friday evening took comments at MonuÂment Plaza on 2100 South near Highland Drive.
About 75 residents and property owners braved chilly temperatures and gave the council plenty to chew on as it considers the Sugar House Circulation Plan that contemplates:
• Closing the right-turn lane on eastbound 2100 South at Highland Drive to create a pedestrian plaza around the Sugar House Monument.
• Realigning the intersection of Sugarmont Drive (2250 South) and Wilmington Avenue at Highland Drive.
• Reducing Highland Drive south of 2100 South from four lanes to three to allow the creation of bicycle lanes and a center turn lane.
• Adding bicycle lanes along 2100 South.
• Extending a streetcar line north from 2100 South along 1100 East.
• Dividing large blocks into smaller ones in the commercial area between Interstate 80 and Wilmington Avenue from Highland Drive to 1300 East.
Residents spoke passionately for and against the proposals, particularly the streetcar and Highland Drive Road Diet.
"I support the plaza and making Sugar House more pedestrian friendly," said Kyle Deans. "I'd like to applaud the City Council for the streetcar line [from 200 West to McClelland Street at 1050 East]."
But many, like David Hibdon, feared auto traffic would become even more congested under the new plan. "When you make all these bike lanes and add all those trolleys, what are you going to do with all the cars that come through here?"
Several residents spoke about crime and homelessness in the area, even though those topics were not on the agenda.
"I think streetcars are unconscionable," said Helga Fleischer. "They are expensive and trendy. ... People talk about crime and other issues. All that money going to the streetcar could go to these other issues."
Parts of the plan have been in the works for decades, said Scott Kissling, a resident who has been involved in the planning.
"All the things in the plan are good," he said. "We're glad it's coming up for a vote. We want you to support it."
The draft implementation plan developed by the California-based consulting firm Fehr & Peers incorporates Salt Lake City's "Complete Streets" policy that emphasizes mass transit, bicycles and pedestrians, as well as automobiles. More information on the plan is available at http://www.slcgov.com.
The City Council will continue to discuss the Sugar House Circulation Plan at future public work sessions, said Chairman Kyle LaMalfa.
The council then will hold at least one more public hearing on the matter. LaMalfa said he is hopeful the council will vote on the plan before year's end.