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Northwest Quadrant Development

Stop Suburban Sprawl in Salt Lake City (4SLC) is a citizens' group that advocates for better alternatives to the current draft plan for the Northwest Quadrant.

The Northwest Quadrant (NW Quadrant) of Salt Lake City is located between the Bangerter Highway (4000 West) and 8800 West and 2100 South to 3700 North. It covers 29 square miles (19,000 acres). On the portion being considered for new development the only roads are dirt, there is no infrastructure in place, and it is 8 miles from downtown SLC. Current zoning is for light manufacturing, open space, and agriculture.

The marshes, playas and upland vegetation zone of the NW Quadrant serve as critical buffers to outside disturbances for a variety of bird species that rely on Great Salt Lake. Its uplands are important habitat for the long billed curlew, burrowing owls, an array of raptors and small mammals. The official planning document, “The Northwest Quadrant: Creating a Sustainable Community” is in final draft form, and is being presented for adoption to the City Council in the next few months.

If the Council approves the plan, the area will be rezoned to pave the way for development which will include: 25,000 housing units, office buildings and other structures, a population of 70,000+ (for comparison West Jordan has a population of 68,000), 15 new elementary schools, 8 middle schools, 2 high schools, plus all the other new infrastructure including roads, sewer lines, electricity and gas lines, a sewage treatment facility, etc. that a new community created on a “greenfield” requires. 

Environmental hazards in the NW Quadrant: 
While it’s a great place for birds, developing the NW Quadrant for humans poses very real problems. In addition to the fact that the area is unconnected to other developed parts of Salt Lake City, a significant portion is a floodplain, the soil will turn to liquid in a severe earthquake, and there are old landfills nearby that contain contaminants (including arsenic). 

Living in the NW Quadrant won't be easy: 
One thing that makes the NW Quadrant such a great bird habitat makes it a difficult place for humans:  there are many insects including swarms of mosquitoes and deer flies.  Trees and other types of plants that people expect to use in landscaping won't grow in the alkaline and saline soil. The Great Salt Lake smells, the airport is noisy, and the view to the west is of the Kennecott smelter. Domestic pet ownership will be restricted because pets pose a threat to the unique birds in the area.  

Risks for all Salt Lake City taxpayers: 

•   There will be further degradation of our air quality from the tens of thousands of additional vehicles traveling on our roads.

•   There is discussion of extending the new light rail line to the airport to the NW Quadrant - but who will pay the $100 million+ cost?

•   Salt Lake City taxpayers will pay for the 23 new schools that will be built there because schools are not covered by impact fees.

•   There is no clear understanding of how much of the cost of entirely new infrastructure such as sewage treatment, public safety facilities, electricity, and roads will be covered by impact fees.

•   There is an unknown cost of providing water to this new community.

•   There will be a significant loss of open space and wildlife habitat particularly for some amazing bird species.

Development is based on unrealistic assumptions:  

•   People will live and work in close proximity to NW Quadrant. The Master Plan assumes ample employment opportunities for the 70,000 + residents based on the fact that 30,000 jobs exist in the area now and are filled by people who live somewhere else in the Salt Lake Valley.  

•   The ecological integrity of the area will be maintained even though 70,000 people with their houses, children and cars will move in.

•   The development won't be suburban sprawl even though it is 8 miles from downtown with no transit other than bus (unless light rail is built).

•   People will be able to grow food-producing gardens and landscaping will include trees even though the soil there will not sustain gardens or trees.

NW Quadrant development runs counter to what we’ve been working toward as a city:

Salt Lake City has had consistent policies for the last 10 years to encourage infill development which strengthens our urban fabric and contributes to sustainability goals. We have also made massive public and private investments in Downtown and the West Side, none of which are guaranteed to succeed. Do policy-makers honestly believe our transit-corridor plans for North Temple can be realized when all of this development is allowed to skip 8 miles to the west? Will our redevelopment of Downtown really be helped by sprawl in the NW Quadrant?

What YOU can do:

1.  Ask your friends to take action.  Invite them to join our cause by sending them this link.  

2.  Share your concerns with the Salt Lake City Council and Mayor Becker.  Ask that the "agricultural" zoning in the NW Quadrant be changed to the “open space” designation.  

You can email the entire city council at  [email protected]

E-mail Mayor Ralph Becker

If you wish to contact your home district's city council member individually, here's how to find them.  We're sorry that these aren't hot links so you'll need to copy and paste them to your browser window and these city websites aren't very user friendly.

First, to find out which district you live in:


Then find links your council member's contact information on the right side of the page at:

Thanks for all your efforts.  Together we can save the open space that exists in the NW Quadrant and stop suburban sprawl within our city limits.

To better understand the issue, click here to view the draft Master Plan that paints a glowing, unrealistic picture of NW Quadrant development.

Then click "news" tab  and Articles on the top menu to see detailed counter arguments.

Recently Updated
Salt Lake Tribune, April 19, 2010 Last Updated on 2010-04-28 00:00:00 Plan sees mini-city west of airport SLC » Critics call the area 'unlivable and unbreathable.' By Derek P. Jensen The Salt Lake Tribune Updated: 04/19/2010 10:49:32 AM MDT var requestedWidth = 0; if(requestedWidth < 200){ requestedWidth = 200; }     if(requestedWidth > 0){ document.getElementById('articleViewerGroup').style.width = requestedWidth + "px"; document.getElementById('articleViewerGroup').style.margin = "0px 0px 10px 10px"; } It's the moonscape-looking marshland you see peering from plane rides in or out of Salt Lake City. There are no trees, few roads and, other than migratory birds, few signs of life.   All that could change... More »