Investing in Clean, Safe, & Beautiful Neighborhoods
South Salt Lake had been through a cycle of decline and rebuilding in the last generation. As new suburbs filled with large homes popped up miles away, families moved and South Salt Lake fell out of favor. But Cherie Wood stayed put, committed to her family and community. She decided to learn from other communities and from observing neighborhoods in South Salt Lake that had stayed strong. She not only put these tools to work, but formed a new team and approach to tackling the root problems, not just the symptoms, of neighborhood decline.
In 2012, the Mayor made a number of key changes to merge departments and functions to take a more comprehensive tact at cleaning up the most persistent problems. Public safety staff took on new duties out in the community, getting involved with youth, getting to know businesses and pointing out "the little things" that drew attention, like graffiti, vacant homes and dark streets. With a combined effort on business licensing, code enforcement, community outreach and a whole lot of volunteer hours through the Community Connection program, neighbors won their blocks back. It couldn't have happened without a broad base of support and a promise that everyone deserved a safe, clean home and neighborhood.
After a decade of stabilizing the city, school by school, block by block, she faces a new challenge-gentrification. Her efforts to make South Salt Lake a walkable, vibrant, 24-7 community worked, and people did return to the city-at a rate not seen in the last 50 years. Today, Utah's hot real estate market has doubled home prices in just 5 years. Our diverse, affordable housing was boosted by thousands of new units of apartments, townhomes and condos. But now the prices were too high for many living here to afford.
Building on this, the Department of Neighborhoods was created in 2021 to bring the emphasis to what matters most to many residents - their neighborhood. It merges many city services including outreach, arts council, community centers and parks into one cohesive team. It also includes code enforcement, animal services, and volunteers to help residents keep their neighborhoods clean and safe and to let people do "what works" for their own community. This team also supports proactive public safety efforts such as Neighborhood Watch and Homeless Strategies to help mitigate impacts where needed. People got involved with the mission to make SSL a little nicer and yes, a safer place to live - and it is working.
Beautiful Yard Awards
During the summer, Mayor Wood likes to recognize residents who have made exceptional efforts that positively impact their neighborhoods. She encourages you to take a closer look around your block and nominate a Beautiful Yard. Visit our Beautiful Yard page to make a submission.