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Picture of Utah
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Picture of Utah
Picture of Utah
Picture of Utah
Picture of Utah
Picture of Utah

Park City could soon be 'idle free'

The Salt Lake Tribune
Christopher Smart
October 31, 2009

Turn off your darn engine -- please.

That's the message Park City officials will send to motorists when it adopts an "Idle Free City" resolution, perhaps before the Christmas holidays.

Although Salt Lake City, Salt Lake County, Ogden and Provo have ordinances disallowing employees from idling city and county vehicles, no municipality in Utah has such a rule for the public.

But with air pollution levels along the Wasatch Front running afoul of the federal Environmental Protection Agency, Park City might not be the last to institute "no idling" measures for everyday motorists. About 50 percent of Utah's air pollution is from automobiles.

Among the catalysts for Park City's move --- that eventually could become an ordinance with citations and even fines -- is the nonprofit organization Clean Air Park City, a chapter of Utah Moms for Clean Air. That group provided the City Council with a draft resolution asking residents not to warm up vehicles in driveways; or leave them running when dashing to the ATM; and even turning off cars at the drive-through.

The resolution is an education tool, said Mary Jacquin of Park City Clean Air. It aims to remind drivers that unnecessary idling of autos has harmful effects on human health and the environment.

Park City's air is clean compared to Wasatch Front communities and Jacquin's group wants to keep it that way.

"We're trying to get out in front of it," she said. "We'd like to see Park City be a role model for Utah."

Park City planners are studying "idle free" regulations in other cities and states and will fine-tune the Park City Clean Air proposal for consideration by the City Council, said the town's sustainability coordinator Tyler Poulson.

The resolution would not include citations nor fines and could be adopted by year's end. "Idle-Free City" signs would then go up in an effort to educate residents and tourists to turn off engines when idling outside traffic lanes.

Planners will then begin work on an ordinance that could include fines, Poulson said. There is no timetable for such a regulation or how it would be enforced. It most likely would include exceptions for severe weather conditions and other health-related factors.

The key to no-idling measures is getting motorists to see the advantages of turning off their cars when they can, said Park City Councilwoman Liza Simpson.

"It's a waste of gas. It's bad for the air. And it causes lung problems in active people," she said.

Because Park City's economy is based on tourism and as a high-altitude training center, it makes sense to keep the air as clean as possible, Simpson said.

Reductions in idling eventually will make a huge difference across the state, said Robin Erickson, director of the nonprofit Utah Clean Cities Coalition.

Erickson believes volunteer idle-free programs will be pop up around Utah as business, government and community leaders, as well as ordinary people, begin to see that reducing unnecessary idling is an easy way to cleaner air and can save a lot of money.

"You can imagine the air quality benefits," Erickson said. "It would be huge."

Idling limits in other states
City Idling time limit Fine
Ketchum, Idaho 3 minutes $100
Aspen, Colo. 5 minutes $100
Minneapolis 3 minutes $200
Burlington, Vt. 3 minutes $10
Atlanta 15 minutes $500

Source » Park City Department of Sustainability

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