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Draper Journal

Draper City Council unanimously passes anti-idling resolution

Aug 22, 2019 12:29PM ● By Mimi Darley Dutton

Erika Doty, husband Sean Lee, and their children Michael and Coraline. Doty got involved in clean air efforts because both of her children suffer from asthma. (Courtesy Erika Doty)

By Mimi Darley Dutton | [email protected]

Draper recently joined the ranks of eight other Utah cities that have passed resolutions or ordinances for clean air and idle free restrictions. 

The resolution states, in part, the city’s desire “to educate the public to the harmful effects of idling vehicles, and foster collaboration in addressing clean air issues.” 

Drivers cannot idle more than two minutes on public or private property, according to the resolution, and the city will collaborate with schools to develop “an education program to inform parents of the consequences of idling cars” in addition to the community at large. 

Draper resident Erika Doty has been an advocate for clean air, beginning first at her children’s school, St. John the Baptist Elementary. “What started all of this is that both of my children suffer from asthma. When we have those nasty inversions, we have more of an issue from a health perspective in my household. As a mother, I was interested in what can we do, why is this happening? It took us down this path. I found out many parents are dealing with this same thing I’m dealing with…with other parents we realized this isn’t that hard, there’s so much of this based in education. Teach them they can do these simple things each day to reduce it. We got our school involved, tried our first idle free awareness week. It was such a success. Most parents say ‘I never even thought of this, but now I think about it all the time’. I think with that is going to come the change. It’s a step in the right direction,” Doty said. 

Doty was honored for her efforts by the Salt Lake County Health Department as an Air Quality Ally winner at a May city council meeting, and she came to speak to the council on the night the resolution was passed. “This initiative is not a partisan issue, this is a health issue…this is about education,” she said.  

Doty is helping the city create a “low hum” of information throughout the year to keep the focus on cleaning our air with plans to make it a larger focus one week in January when the air is traditionally bad with inversions. Police Chief John Eining has plans to reward people outside of schools who are not idling with gift certificates as part of the city’s efforts.

“We know we can’t fix air pollution just from Draper, but we want to educate the public and do our part. We all share jointly some responsibility. We’re not trying to be punitive, we’re just trying to recognize easy things everyone can do,” Councilmember Tasha Lowery said. 

Lowery explained why schools are a good place to focus these efforts as Doty has done. “Emissions aren’t spread evenly throughout the valley. They’re in hot spots, and one of the biggest collectors of emissions is schools because of all the idling parents running their cars for air conditioning in hotter temperatures and for heat in the cold. And with the private schools and charter schools we have in Draper, only the public schools have buses, and not everyone is riding the buses. At preschools, parents oftentimes idle next to the playground, so it’s like they’re pumping some of these toxic emissions right into the kids’ lungs,” she said. 

Melarie Wheat brought her young children to the city council meeting the night the resolution was passed to speak in support of it. She said she used to idle her car. “Now, knowing what I know about how dangerous that is for our air, it horrifies me, but I didn’t know,” Wheat said. She said the issue was brought to her attention when Sandy City passed their initiative. “It’s clear that it’s designed for Draper City and the residents for their health,” Wheat said of the resolution.  

“The nature of being in a valley is that our air is trapped in with the mountains surrounding us, so we’ve got to work with what we’ve got,” Lowery said.

Doty said she feels there’s a frustration that more isn’t being done for clean air on the state level, and people are looking to be part of the solution, so they’re looking to their local leaders or governments to express what they want as a community. 

“Fifty-three percent of pollution comes from mobile sources, including cars and trucks. We can’t prevent the inversion from occurring because of the geography, but we are in control of what gets trapped under that lid,” Doty said.