A second term in S.L. District 7
Salt Lake Tribune
Updated:10/23/2009 06:26:48 PM MDT
When The Tribune endorsed Soren Simonsen four years ago for a seat on the Salt Lake City Council, we liked that he was a professional planner who took the long view. We believe that the confidence voters placed in him then has been rewarded, and he deserves a second term.
Simonsen represents District 7, the southeast corner of the city, including Sugar House. He has a worthy opponent in Lisa Ramsey Adams, a personable lawyer and former private guardian ad litem who says she is a good listener and can work well with other council members. But her platform does not differ significantly from his, except perhaps her emphasis on crime, and we see no compelling reason for voters to abandon Simonsen's hard-won experience in office for a newcomer who would pursue the same or similar goals.
Besides, Simonsen's professional expertise as an architect and urban planner is valuable to the council as it wrestles with issues like Sugar House redevelopment, the proposed Sugar House trolley line, monster homes and traffic pressures.
For example, he proposes tweaking the city's demolition ordinance, which currently allows the wrecking ball to swing immediately after the Planning Commission has approved a project. He would change that to allow demolitions only after a building permit has been issued. Had such a policy been in place, several sites that now are empty lots might still have buildings on them, including the former Granite block in the heart of Sugar House that has caused such controversy. (The rezoning of the Granite block occurred before Simonsen was in office.) He also would amend current law to disallow a landscaping plan as a viable reuse.
On the monster homes issue, he does not oppose rebuilding or adding to homes so long as the result is compatible with the neighborhood. But he does support the city allowing more historic districts, which place restrictions on materials and style, where there is a strong consensus for it among residents. Simonsen is a former chairman of the Historic Landmarks Commission.
He shares many of The Tribune's progressive policy goals, including clean air (he rides a fuel-efficient scooter around the city), advancing mass transit and its related development, and building the city's trail system. He has worked with other council members to bring those goals to fruition, taking the lead on the Sugar House trolley and Parleys trail.
Simonsen says a second term would be his last. He's earned a place in the sophomore class.