Planning and Transportation
I envision a city with a network of active, vibrant, safe, and walkable neighborhoods. I see these neighborhoods connected through a robust public and active transportation network. Neighborhoods like Ballpark, Station Center, 300 West, the State Street Corridor, 900 West, or North Temple/Fairpark will become rich urban nodes that allow small businesses to thrive, foster diversity, are safe and welcoming, and remain attainable for all. We are already seeing this transformation in places like Central 9th and the 900 South Corridor.
As a practicing architect with a background in urban design, and with experience on the Planning Commission and with the RDA, I have the knowledge and understanding to shape our city policies to make this vision a reality. I have built critical relationships with my fellow Councilmembers, Mayor Mendenhall, and key city employees. I am excited to continue using my expertise and experience during my first full term on the City Council.
Local businesses make Salt Lake City and District 5 unique and COVID-19 has been devastating to many small businesses. At the beginning of the pandemic, the City Council authorized one of the first small business emergency loan programs in the country. As we begin to exit the pandemic and return to normalcy I will prioritize continued support for small businesses so that we can keep as many of our local treasures as possible.
Individuals and families in our city were also hard hit by the pandemic. Salt Lake City launched the Raise Up Salt Lake City program which offers $500 gift cards to individuals who were not eligible for a federal stimulus check. We also expanded our Youth City program to support families and school children during the pandemic. As your councilmember, I will continue to fight for resources and funding that can help our city recover from the effects of COVID-19 as quickly as possible.
Housing and Homelessness
Salt Lake’s housing costs have skyrocketed in recent years and wages and income have not kept pace. Long-time residents find it difficult to stay in the city and many are being evicted from homes they have lived in for years. Our housing affordability crisis requires a multi-pronged approach including financial investments, development incentives, updated planning and zoning ordinances, anti-displacement strategies, partnerships with non-profit organizations, and new rent stability and affordable homeownership programs.
As Utah's capital city, Salt Lake is the center of services for our unsheltered neighbors. Continued investment in short-term measures needs to be combined with long-term solutions to help people exit homelessness permanently. Developing deeply affordable housing is a critical piece of the solution. I will continue to work with the administration, my colleagues on the council, and our partners at other levels of government to develop both long-term and short-term solutions to homelessness.
At times, the city council’s job is to develop a vision for the Salt Lake City of the future or respond to calamities like a pandemic and an earthquake. Other times, we just need to ensure the city is providing residents with the municipal services they need. This includes providing our city departments such as Streets, Parks and Public Lands, Sustainability, or Police and Fire with the funding and resources they need to do their job well. I will continue to work with residents and stakeholders to respond to concerns about parking, safety, sanitation, etc.
Good governance also means adapting our city policies and processes to new technologies or companies in our city. I have worked on policies related to electric scooters, Air BNB’s, and the installation of Google Fiber and Small Cell 5G Wireless Towers. As District 5’s representative, I will continue to advocate for the everyday issues affecting our residents.
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
As a Grandson of Japanese Americans who were forced from their home during World War II, and as a gay man, I understand on a personal level what it feels like to be a minority. In my first year on the City Council I voted to approve funding for the city’s Racial Equity in Policing Commission. I advocated to make this the first ever board or commission whose members receive a stipend for their work. I added my voice to help stop a discriminatory transgender sports bill from advancing and signed multiple ceremonial resolutions recoginizing the diverse communities in Salt Lake.
Regardless of the issue, I am compelled to examine my decisions through the lens of equity, diversity, and inclusion. I feel responsible to be a representative for not only my district but the AAPI community, the queer community, and the greater BIPOC communities. I will continue to fight to make Salt Lake City even more welcoming and diverse.
As a Ballpark resident, I love my neighborhood but I am deeply concerned when I hear from neighbors and constituents who feel unsafe in their homes and communities. I have worked closely with Mayor Mendenhall’s administration and our Salt Lake City Police to help find solutions to the most pressing public safety concerns in our district. I was successful in advocating for increased street lighting on Paramount Avenue and at Jefferson Park. When calls for racial justice in policing swept the country in 2020, we took a metered approach that focuses on improving our police department.
Neighborhood safety is improved when we build communities full of businesses that provide around the clock activity, design walkable streets that are safely lit, foster stronger relationships with our neighbors, ensure everyone in our city can afford safe and permanent housing, fund mental health and addiction recovery services, and build mutual trust between our police department, city leaders, and residents of all races and backgrounds. These are the solutions I will keep fighting for during my first full term as the District 5 Councilmember
Arts and Parks
Salt Lake City is lucky to have more robust arts and culture institutions than other cities our size. District 5 is particularly blessed to have Liberty Park at the heart of our community. Arts, Parks, and Culture are critical institutions that make our city great. Not only do they make our city more interesting and colorful, but investing in arts and culture leads to economic development and growth.
While on the council, I have worked to increase our percent for art funding from 1% to 1.5%. I also voted to fund projects like the acquisition of Allen Park, the rehabilitation of the Fisher Carriage House, and the expansion of Wasatch Community Gardens’ programs. In my first full term on City Council, I will continue to prioritize arts, culture, historic preservation, parks, and trails.
Environment and Sustainability
As the capital city, Salt Lake has led the state in environmental stewardship. Each year we invest more resources in sustainable city practices and develop new ordinances and incentives to encourage responsible practices by residents, businesses, and developers. By planning walkable communities, building a 15-minute city, and investing in improved transportation we can reduce our reliance on fossil fuels and improve our air quality. Encouraging water conservation, prioritizing energy efficiency, and advocating for sustainable building practices are critical to our future.
Environmental stewardship also means proper management of our parks, trails, natural lands, and open spaces. I will prioritize parks and trail management throughout our city and advocate for better use of our open spaces such as golf courses. These spaces contribute to the health of our city and provide healthy recreation opportunities for residents.