This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2017, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
The Downtown Alliance, a nonprofit representing some 2,500 businesses in Salt Lake City, issued a call for action to address a Rio Grande neighborhood it says is "in crisis."
The 10-point plan encompasses mainly steps that already are underway, although the Alliance stressed the urgency of implementing them immediately. It comes a week after two high-profile crimes the assault of a visiting minor league baseball player and a fatal hit-and-run that spurred House Speaker Greg Hughes to suggest a state homeless czar.
Among the concrete proposals from the Alliance were opening up additional jail beds (which Salt Lake County recently has done); enforcing city camping bans (which Salt Lake City recently began doing); stepped-up cleaning and collection of discarded personal items (which the county and city have done and plan on continuing); and additional statewide funding of mental health and substance-abuse treatment (which the state has provided).
The Alliance also joined Salt Lake County Sheriff Jim Winder and Mayor Ben McAdams in calling for relocation of the state liquor store on 200 W. 400 South. In the alternative, it proposed "operational changes" at the outlet.
One such change could be selling higher-priced alcohol to keep the products out of the hands of individuals experiencing homelessness, said Nick Como, the group's senior director of communication and marketing.
"If [the 400 South store] was operated kind of like the liquor store on the east side of downtown where it's higher-end wine and spirits and not the three dollar vodka or whatever it is that's over there, I think that operational change would help by not essentially dangling a carrot of cheap booze in front of people who are really trying to battle their addictions."
The Alliance also gave a nod to longer-term proposals that are in the works, including installation of new high-intensity lighting, surveillance cameras, trash cans, portable toilets and fencing along 500 West; additional investment in affordable housing; and support for Salt Lake County's Collective Impact approach that includes closing the downtown shelter by mid-2019 and opening up three smaller homeless resource centers two in Salt Lake City and one in South Salt Lake.
Finally, the Alliance called for a statewide effort acknowledging homelessness and heightened crime and drug problems are a Utah problem, not one belonging just to Salt Lake City and county and a "re-commitment for public and private leaders to work together in good faith to address the crisis" an apparent reference to communication breakdowns in recent months that have marked the relationship between Salt Lake City and county leaders.
Dan Harrie and Taylor Stevens
Editor's note • This story has been updated from the original. The two changes include correcting the identification of House Speaker Greg Hughes and adding details of proposed "operational changes" to the 200 W. 400 South state liquor store.