SLC's Vehicle Idling Ordinance One Year Later

It’s been almost a year since Salt Lake City passed an ordinance banning vehicle idling over 2 minutes. After some revisions were made to the plan during the last legislative session, the city’s parking enforcement personnel began implementing the new rule in the spring. But as Jessica Gail reports, only a half dozen citations have been written since then.

It happens everyday. Whether drivers are waiting in traffic or just warming up their cars, officials say idling is clogging up our air.

“It really puts a negative quality air out there. The studies have shown that asthma is increased by it.”

Ryan Zumwalt, is a Salt Lake City parking compliance officer. He says since the city passed the idle free ordinance he has been looking for drivers who idle more than two minutes in downtown.

Zumwalt: “The reason I’m here is because your vehicle is idling and there is an idling ordinance here that it can’t be idling for over two minutes."

Driver: "Is that right? I haven’t heard of that one.”

Friday he gave a warning citation to a construction worker who was letting his dump truck run in the middle of 2nd South.  That’s the fourth warning that Zumwalt has given since the ordinance went into place bringing the total written to six.

But, Ben Roberts, Compliance Director in Salt Lake City says those numbers don’t mean the city isn’t taking the campaign seriously.

“The real purpose of this ordinance is the education. We want the public to understand the importance of shutting their vehicle off. What the damage can do done when idling their vehicle and understand that the city doesn’t need that or want it and then we need to try and curtail that as much as possible.”

Roberts says while his officers have not written many warning citations they have handed out nearly 1,000 flyers educating drivers on the new rule and effects of idling.

He also adds there are so many exemptions written into the law that it makes enforcement a little trickier. Parking officers can’t issue warnings when temperatures are over 90 degrees or below 32 and several types of vehicles including law enforcement and utility vehicles are exempt.

Under restrictions to the ordinance passed earlier this year by the Utah legislature, 3 warnings must be issued to the driver before he is issued a fine.