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Lawmakers, Salt Lake City reach truce on anti-idling ordinance

Published March 6, 2012 8:59 pm

HB104 • Compromise between lawmakers and SLC will allow local governments to enforce clean-air initiatives.
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The Legislature and Salt Lake City declared a truce of sorts on Tuesday over a bill once designed to thwart the city's ban on excessive car idling.

Sen. Ben McAdams, D-Salt Lake City, made an amendment to HB104, which he said was a compromise worked out between the city and Rep. Wayne Harper, R-West Jordan, the bill's sponsor.

He said it will allow cities to have anti-idling ordinances. But it will allow enforcement on private property only if it is open to the general public — and not in places such as private driveways.

Also, it would exempt enforcement in such places as approaches to drive-through windows of restaurants or banks, as long as they post signs warning drivers about time limits for idling.

The bill would allow minor fines, similar to parking fines.

"I think this appropriately balances the justifiable need to respect private property rights but also provide for the ability of local jurisdictions to regulate and enforce through educational measures things that may be detrimental to public health," McAdams said.

With the amendments, the Senate voted 28-0 to give preliminary approval of the bill, and move it to a final vote in the Senate.

Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker testified against the bill in an earlier committee hearing, saying it was an attempt to trample a local government's rights to do what its residents want. He said Salt Lake City has a different mindset than other parts of Utah and a city should be allowed to regulate based on its population's wishes.

However, Harper argued cities are political subdivisions of the state, and the state has the responsibility to act if cities overstep their bounds in ways inconsistent with state policy. He said the anti-idling ordinance did just that.