Monday, March 31, 2014

Panama: punching well above its weight on several fronts (not all good)

The dear wife and I were in Panama last week. While I'll get back to blogging on SLC and US items soon, I thought I’d note a few things that you might not have known about Panama.
Yes, this is in Central America

Visitors to the country receive free health insurance during their stay (up to 30 days). This coverage covers not only medical emergencies, but also helps with dental issues, provides legal assistance in case of accidents or lost/stolen documents.

Panama has not had a single case of polio since 1972, yellow fever since 1974, diphtheria since 1981, or cholera since 1993.* As with much of the tropical world, however, dengue and malaria still have not been eradicated.

Voting is required of all residents, however no fine is assessed if one doesn’t vote. Note that voting is also compulsory in Peru, Brazil, and Australia (the latter of which assess fines up to $170). Panama saw 69% voter turnout in their last presidential election, versus 58% for the US.

Panama’s first female president, Mireya Moscoso, served from 1999-2004.

Presidents are only allowed to serve a single 5 year term.

Panama City boasts a 67 story building called the Point, which is the tallest all-residential building in the Western Hemisphere.

Despite being very car-centric, Panama City has a population density almost five times that of SLC (7,656 versus 1,666 people per sq mile).

Panama City is trying to become the Singapore of Latin America (and appears well on its way).

Despite its prospering capital, 85% of people in Panama's indigenous regions "cannot afford enough calories for an adequate diet."

In the last half of the 20th century, Panama lost nearly half of its “remaining primary forests” (5.4 million acres).*

Between Panama and Columbia there is ~60 miles of uninterrupted rain forest called the Darien Gap. This area noted both for its undisturbed natural beauty and the guerillas, paramilitaries, and drug traffickers who’ve encroached into the area (partially because of Columbia’s civil war).

Relatedly, the Pan-American highway (which is ~30,000 miles long) stops at the town of Yaviza, Panama at the edge of the Darien. There are no roads or scheduled ferries linking Panama and Columbia.

From David to Santiago (~120 miles) the Pan-American highway (the main thoroughfare in Panama) is a two lane road that has no shoulders or lane markings.

The Panama Canal can currently transit ships which can hold up to 5,000 20-ft containers:

When the lock expansion project finishes in 2015, the canal will be able to handle vessels hauling ~13,000 20-ft containers.

Go when you can.

*From the Moon guide to Panama (published 2013).

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

SLC demolishing corner of 100 S Main for new PAC and 24 story office tower

Couple exciting things going on on the southeast corner of 100 S Main in SLC. First, the city is building a new Performing Arts Center (PAC), which will be at 135 S and the real estate arm of the LDS Church is building a 24 story office building at 111 S Main. Construction crews are currently tearing down the corner (pics below). The new PAC is slated to have 2,500 seats, whereas Capitol Theater and Kingsbury Hall have a capacity of ~1,900. The larger number of seats as well as better equipped lobby, loading areas, backstage,  and box offices will make it such that the new PAC can accommodate the large traveling shows (such as Lion King and Wicked), that previously had to take a pass on SLC. FAQ is here.

Next door to the north, at 111 S, an affiliate of City Creek Reserve called 111 S Main LLC, is developing a 24 story office tower. The LDS Church affiliate recently acquired the interests on this project from Hamilton Partners, who recently developed the 22 story office tower nearby at 222 S Main.

Both projects are slated for completion in 2016.

I took both photos on March 8th (from the north). Exciting to see big projects going on downtown!

Note: I'll be taking about a week off from blogging, but we'll see you next weekend.

Monday, March 17, 2014

How to rent a car for one hour in SLC

In order to raise standards of living, cities don’t always have to focus on attracting businesses or raising wages. Cities could get a lot of mileage out of expanding bus routes and doing things that make families less likely to need their least used vehicle. SLC, for example, can provide a substantial boost to living standards if it makes it easier for the average family to own just one car instead of two (as car ownership costs ~$5,000/yr). Enterprise Car Share, which is firmly established in Salt Lake City, is helping provide such a boost.

How this works is that about 12 Enterprise cars are scattered about downtown SLC (and elsewhere along Wasatch Front) and are available to rent on an hourly or daily basis. SLC locations:

It's not only convenient for those downtown, but also super easy to use. Here are the steps:
  •   Sign up online so they can send you a membership card
  •   Reserve a car online
  •  Use the membership card to open the door
  •  When done, return the car to where you picked it up

And all fuel, insurance, and 200 miles/day are included in the hourly rates:

Fairly reasonable at $8/hr during the weekday. Info on the SLC program is here and the FAQ is here.

Conveniences like this are natural features of Salt Lake City proper (and big cities everywhere). Combining this, the Hive Pass, and substantial public transit options means that living in the city doesn't have to be more expensive than living in the suburbs. SLC should tout these kind of benefits more, and combine it with an abundant supply of housing to provide an unbeatable value proposition for residents (both current and prospective).

Friday, March 14, 2014

Utah legislature to inversion: See ya next winter!

The 2014 Utah legislative session ended last night with a fury of activity. Unfortunately, it appears that most of the bills designed to significantly improve air quality were quashed in the process Here's a list of all of the 486 bills that passed. I'll highlight some of important ones relative to air quality.
Wasatch Front for many years to come
There’s good with the bad, as always, and Utah politics being what it is, I suppose we should be happy for any sign of environmental awareness. (See the overly effusive coverage from the Trib and DesNews here and here.)


Patricia Arent’s HB154 will provide money to help people convert wood-burning stoves to more efficient sources of heat. This bill also ramps up a public awareness campaign, which will be handy for the apparently-large number of Utahns who don’t know that burning like it’s 1799 causes air pollution. Sadly, the red burn day enforcement parts of the bill were stripped out.

HB41 allocated $20 million for replacing dirty diesel school buses, which is pretty awesome. This article from the SLTrib details the “dirty bus” issue and states that “1,000 of the state’s more than 2,800 school buses are 13 years old or older” and that buses built before 2007 emit more than 20 times the pollution of buses built since 2007. Good work on this one, Rep Handy and Sen Osmond!

$3 million in additional funding was directed to the state Division of Air Quality, with $1.4 million of that specifically for research. Senator Gene Davis said that with this money the legislature was putting scientists to work on the air quality problem. While I always support extra research funding, the legislature is acting as though we need further proof that breathing smog is bad for you before taking any significant action.

Rep Snow’s and Sen Stuart’s HB74 upped the state tax credit to $1500 for electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles, which is good news! Now if we only had the infrastructure to support this for the masses.

Didn't pass:

Johnny Anderson’s HB388 didn't pass, which would have allowed cities and counties to put quarter-cent sales tax hikes on the ballot, which could have raised UTA’s revenue by $91.5 million, expanded ridership by 53% and taken 50,000 cars off the road each day.

And, happily, Wayne Harper’s SB139 won’t end up raising registration fees for hybrids, natural gas, and electric vehicles.

If the first rule here is do no harm, then the 2014 legislature passed with flying colors, since they didn’t pass anything crazy and actually made some minor improvements. Sadly, however, that's not a very high bar. The problem is that the legislature only seems to be able to play small ball. The biggest air quality improvements from this session will be that some new school buses are purchased, a few more people will stop burning wood, and a few more rich people in SLC will be able to buy electric vehicles. Overall, UTA won’t receive any notable funding increases and no bills passed that would in any way discourage driving, which is the main source of pollution associated with our winter inversions. Sweet.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

A streetcar system is coming this fall to downtown SLC

I hadn't heard this until last weekend. When strolling downtown, I noticed this poster detailing a proposed streetcar system that will cover a large portion of downtown. There's hardly anything on the internet about this, but I imagine it'll look something like the S Line that just opened up in Sugarhouse. There is an interactive official site here (sort of an open city hall, which is cool), where people are discussing the project and proposed routing. If you're more of an in-person kind of person, there's an open house tonight at the City Creek Harmon's from 5-7PM.

Very cool! For the most recent info, check out the #CityChat that @DowntownSLC and @RideUTA held yesterday. Twitter is turning out to be a great way to get involved in SLC goings-on. And here's a map of proposed routings from @DowntownSLC:

Here is UTA's page on the streetcar, which puts a completion date of fall 2014(?!), and here is a 2010 report on the proposed streetcar system from the SLC Redevelopment Agency.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Utah Legislature may pass an air quality bill that actually makes a difference

Dislikes the Prius, but loves the bus
Good news out of the Utah legislature! Reps Johnny Anderson and Joel Briscoe are sponsoring a bill that would let local municipalities raise funding for public transportation. HB388, dubbed a “quarter for clean air,” would make it possible for SLC to put an increase in transit funding on the ballot, whereas before UTA funding had to be authorized by the state itself. A recent Salt Lake Tribune editorial by the two house sponsors and SLC Mayor Ralph Becker noted that a quarter percent hike in the sales tax (which this bill would allow) is estimated to increase UTA ridership by 53% and take 50,000 vehicles off the road each day.

The great news is that this just passed out of the Utah House by a 58-10 margin and now moves on to the Senate. The legislature wraps up its business for the year this week, so if you’re looking to get involved (even just via Twitter), now may be the time to do it.

This bill is truly something to be happy about!

If interested, your local officials can be found here and their Twitter handle (if any) can be found here.

Rep Johnny Anderson (bill sponsor) can be reached at

Rep Joel Briscoe (bill co-sponsor) can be reached at and @RepBriscoe

Senator Jerry Stevenson (floor sponsor) can be reached at and @Sen_Stevenson

Note: The odd part about this is that Johnny Anderson is also sponsoring legislation (SB139) that raises registration fees on hybrids, natural gas, and electric vehicles. Trib article here. Recent status is the following, but I don't know the language of the legislature enough to interpret. Anyone?

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

The reason why free market healthcare would never work

A couple people on Twitter yesterday were whining about the ACA's individual mandate, and instead wished the government would make health insurance so cheap that people would all just buy because they couldn't resist its cheapness.

(I guess our free will is being taken away in this country--not by the government, but by cheap stuff.) Indeed, though, the cry to unleash market forces to lower healthcare costs has been widespread since the complicated ACA became law. Free market, inexpensive healthcare would of course be lovely, but, like many libertarian fantasies, it won’t work in the real world.

The reason for this is due to what economists call a market failure. Say we start with a system where private companies sell health insurance to individuals, and the rate people pay depends on their general health, as measured by several risk factors. Of course, young healthy individuals, who don’t have much need for most of what health insurance covers, won’t buy into the pool in large numbers. If we’re talking about a free market, the insurance companies also won’t have any incentive to sell insurance to sick individuals at reasonable prices, as those companies likely wouldn't make enough off of the premiums to justify the bills the sick would incur. Thus, in this free market world the young and the sick are quickly out of the insurance pool.

Now, say the insurance company sets prices according to the aforementioned risk factors, as makes sense. People get that a young, non-smoking in their thirties will likely file fewer insurance claims than a smoker in their fifties. BUT, and here’s the kicker, even within the lowest-expense insurance tier, there will be people above and below the average risk in that particular tier. Now, the fact that the insured has more information about their health than does the insurer (called asymmetric information) produces the market failure. This arises from the fact that those who are the healthiest within their tier, and most likely to subsidize others, will be less likely to buy insurance. Once the healthiest of a particular tier drop out of the pool, the health insurance company will have to raise rates on the (now) slightly unhealthier clientele, which again motivates the healthiest, who are getting the worst deal, to further drop insurance and the feedback loop continues. This market failure is called adverse selection, and it’s the reason a free market solution to health care would never work. This is what the ACA's individual mandate fixes.

Note: This is partially why there isn't a rich country, that I can find, that uses the free market to bring health insurance to its citizens. Did I miss one? Is there such a country? Also: here's my very brief primer on how the ACA works (and avoids adverse selection).

Monday, March 10, 2014

Data confirms that SLC is not building enough new units for residents

Digging a into the data from the Bureau of Economic and Business Research (BEBR) at the University Utah, I've found some great info on new construction in Salt Lake County. While that may not of seem exciting, it does allow us to see if Salt Lake City is building new housing units compared to the surrounding cities. Thus we'll be able to see if a constrained supply of housing (or office space) may be causing the high prices in SLC compared to the rest of Salt Lake County. Here's the data on new housing units (houses, condos, or apartments) built in the various cities within the county for all of 2012:

And what do we find? Despite having, by far, the highest population in the state, Salt Lake City is nowhere close to the top of the list. Even though SLC hasn't been growing anywhere near as fast as these other cities, it is extremely odd that South Jordan built almost five times as many units as SLC in 2012 but only added about twice as many residents from 2010-2012 (5516 versus 2874 for SLC). This lack of SLC construction is what's pushing up prices, and driving people and businesses to other cities in the valley.

Note: except for a single large complex (which I've yet to identify) that opened in SLC in Oct 2012, these SLC numbers would have been quite a bit more dismal. Also, for likely explanations for the lack of building in SLC, see this post on historical preservation and this one on SLC's strangely specific parking minimums.

Friday, March 7, 2014

The Utah Heritage Foundation: Reducing your income since 1966

Since I’ve recently bemoaned the lack of density in SLC proper, thought I’d finally lay out more of
SLC Council: "This city will make a fine museum one day."
the policies that made it this way. Recall that these policies not only make us fatter, poorer, and less productive, but they also appear to be pushing people and jobs elsewhere in the state. (Note--this isn't a super positive post.)

One of the most important of these missteps is the fact that SLC is turning into one large historic district with a giant salty lake attached to it. SLC proper (which is the focus here) has written into its city code that historic preservation brings large environmental and economic benefits to the city. Much of their policy seems to be based on one very... uneconomic study done by Place Economics, which appears to be a firm that goes around the country telling cities how awesome historic preservation is (think of the Monorail salesman on the Simpsons).

While there are errors throughout the various versions of the report, for the sake of organization I’ll briefly discuss each header of the summary:

Jobs and Income—The report touts the fact that rehabilitating buildings leads to local jobs and income. If one digs in further (Table 4 here), they find UT preservation state tax credits directly contributed to 8 jobs in the state. Eight jobs! Imagine the building and construction jobs that would come if developers were actually allowed to build across SLC. Imagine the companies that would move downtown if rents weren’t so high due to a constrained supply of office space. It's strange that they don't address the costs imposed on local business via higher rents. The Economist's Ryan Avent describes these costs here and the large economic benefits of density (ie, the benefits of not preserving entire old neighborhoods) here.

Heritage Tourism—No one comes to Utah to see the Keith Mansion and no, people coming to Park City for Sundance aren’t coming because of the heritage. And you probably shouldn't mention Zion and Bryce NPs in a document touting the benefits of buildings preservation.

Rents and House Prices—Throughout the report the authors describe historic preservation as bringing economic benefits, as evidenced via higher house prices. What they fail to mention is the fact that when you decrease the supply of something its price goes up. What we've learned over the last twenty years is that people are moving to where there's cheap houses and cheap office space. If Logan house prices go up, that's good for the few people in Logan who can sell their house and move into a cardboard box, but a definite negative if the city ever wants to attract any future residents.

Historic preservation-induced economic boom or reduced housing supply?
Sustianability—The study touts preservation policies as being sustainable. But there’s nothing sustainable about preserving drafty old single family homes, other than the fact that new construction materials aren't used to replace it. But construction is a one-time environmental cost! Whereas the increased energy use and driving which is required by these low density policies remain until the policy changes. That low density policies are inherently unsustainable is described well by Harvard economist Ed Glaeser here.

Downtown revitalization—To repeat myself, it’s hard to revitalize something when your policies are designed to raise prices, inhibit growth in new apartment units, and effectively keep people out, as people are the key to revitalization.

Fiscal responsibility—Fiscal issues are certainly connected to the policies promoted by the Utah Heritage Foundation (who commissioned the study), but they’re exactly the opposite of what the author’s conclude. They say that “fiscal responsibility means being prudent with taxpayers’ dollars” and then go on to tout the investments our tax dollars have made via this tax credit. This is perhaps the saddest bullet of all. Currently our state is foregoing tax revenue to encourage the preservation of buildings. Since SLC has an inordinate amount of these historic districts, the tax credit is effectively keeping people out of Salt Lake, which makes it more costly per-block to maintain infrastructure, a police force, fire stations, libraries, rec centers, trash collection, and everything else a city does. The benefits of scale are real and by keeping people out the cost of such services go up for everyone else. Thus historic preservation is inherently fiscally IRresponsible.

Historic preservation should be touted for helping us appreciate Utah’s fine history. And that's fine as far as it goes, but we should all be cognizant of the sizable economic costs imposed on SLC because of it. These policies are why Salt Lake's population is barely growing.

Note: To really learn how preservation and restrictive zoning impact city prosperity, see the short, cheap ebooks The Gated City and The Rent is Too Damn High. This was a critical post, but sometimes there's no way around it. Where am I going wrong here? 

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Speaker Lockhart diverts general education funds to tech initiative

I'm certainly not an expert on education, but did want to note something that was passed along:

It seems that that yesterday the Utah Senate decided to raise taxes to raise more funds for education in general, and Speaker Becky Lockhart is trying to shoe-horn much of that money into her tech initiative, which would provide an ipad to each Utah student. While I don't know enough to dissect her proposal, one has to wonder if she's more worried about padding her resume with something flashy (for when she runs for governor in 2016) rather than using limited tax dollars to produce better student outcomes overall.

Here's the Trib on the matter:
A hijacking of sorts occurred in the Utah Senate Tuesday.
Senators approved taking perhaps hundreds of millions of dollars that were targeted to help equalize funding for schools around the state over the next four years, and earmarked it instead for a drive pushed by House Speaker Becky Lockhart to put more technology in schools.
The bill from yesterday (raising the funds) is HB111 and Speaker Lockhart's initiative is associated with HB131. Here's an interview with Lockhart on her initiative.

This (page 85) shows Utah is still dead last in per-pupil spending.

If interested, your local Rep/Senator can be found here and their Twitter and email addresses can be found here. Speaker Lockhart is @BeckyLockhart and

What say YOU?

Why is everyone moving to Provo?

Lately I've been trying to get a handle on population trends around SLC and Utah in general. What I've failed to mention is the fact that over the last several years Provo-Orem and St George have among the highest population growth rates not only in Utah, but also in the nation.


People seem to love the Rooftop Concert Series, but else is going on in Provo to attract so many people?Here's another comparison across the west from 2010-2012:

The Provo-Orem and SLC metropolitan areas are doing a fabulous job attracting residents (Provo especially). And to be strict about the comparison, Provo proper attracted 3431 people from 2010-2012 compared to a gain of only 2874 people for SLC proper (and SLC is ~50% bigger!). So, what are Provo, St George, and the SLC 'burbs doing right that SLC proper is not?

As people are a city's lifeblood and tax base, it's in their best interest to attract people. Other than onerous parking minimums, there are other notable policy oddities in SLC and in the coming days we'll try and tease out what's causing people to shun the capitol.

Note: The data in this post are from here and here. Check it out!

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

I for one welcome our robot car overlords

As you’re probably aware, Google has been
Look Ma, no hands!
developing technology for driverless cars. Indeed, they’ve already tested these things for hundreds of thousands of miles without mishap. While normal car technology has slowly improved over time, the whole process is still insanely inefficient. Robot cars, however, could change all of that. With Google’s recent investment in Uber (the awesome app-based car hire service), they've provided some direction of where they’re taking this project. Felix Salmon describes the potential of the driverless car:
Firstly, they probably won’t be operated on the owner-occupier model that we use for cars today, where we have to leave our cars parked for 97% of their lives just so that we know they’re going to be available for us when we need them. Given driverless cars’ ability to come pick you up whenever you need one, it makes much more sense to just join a network of such things, giving you the same ability to drive your car when you’re at home, or in a far-flung city, or whenever you might normally take a taxi. And the consequence of that is much less need for parking (right now there are more than three parking spots for every car), and therefore the freeing up of lots of space currently given over to parking spots.
What’s more, the capacity of all that freed-up space will be much greater than the capacity of our current roads. Put enough platoons and self-driving cars onto the road, and it’s entirely conceivable that the number of vehicle-miles driven per hour, on any given stretch of road, could double from its current level, even without any increase in the speed limit. Then, take account of the fact that vehicle mileage will continue to improve. The result is that with existing dumb roads, we could wind up moving more people more miles for less total energy expenditure in cars — even when most of those cars continue to have just one person in them — than by forcing those people to cluster together and take huge, heavy trains instead.
While cars have made incremental progress over the years, the whole process is still incredibly inefficient. The driverless cars can potentially change so many things for the better. Some of the potential benefits:

1. Significantly safer than even the best human driver, as computers don’t get distracted. More than 90 people die every day on the roads and more than 1.2 million are seriously injured each year. Why don’t we talk about this more? Imagine if 90 people a day were dying at the hands of terrorists.

2. Because of the potential for platooning, there would be much less traffic. Some estimate that the capacity of roads could double. This would be enormously beneficial in terms of both time and energy efficiency.

3. A drastically more efficient use of space in cities (and thus more convenience and less energy use) because there will be much less need for parking. As mentioned above, there are currently three spots for every car, which is making us fatter, poorer, and less productive.

4. Don’t have to deal with the hassle of maintaining a vehicle. No fueling every week or two, or worrying about maintenance, repairs, registering, and insuring the things.

5. Enhanced mobility for kids, the blind, the disabled, the drunk, and the elderly (which frees up time for those who’ve been playing taxi).

6. Cheaper houses, as they won't have to come with garages. This will save money in terms of construction costs, but more in that one will need to buy less land per house.

Finally, Morgan Stanley provides this chart as to when this utopia may arrive, and it's surprisingly soon!

What, if anything would be the downside here? More from the Economist here, the New Yorker here, and NY Times here. Felix Salmon here and Matt Yglesias here address why driverless cars may actually hasten the transition to electric vehicles.

Note: the original version of this post stated that Google had purchased Uber outright, which is incorrect. Turns out they only purchased part of the company via a ~$250 million investment.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Tax increase might allow vast UTA expansion, but do they deserve more money?

Wasted money or system to be emulated?
A bill is working its way through the house that would allow (via referendum) a tax increase to significantly expand bus service around SLC. HB388 is sponsored by Rep Joel Briscoe and Rep Johnny Anderson and would let local counties to put a quarter-cent (per $1 purchase) tax hike on the ballot that could raise up to $91.5M/yr and expand bus service by 68% over five years.

Some people have something of a dismal view of UTA and respond to such proposals like this:

But they are wrong. If we unpack the data with context, we see a different story. First, ridership of public transit around SLC has remained flat as a percentage of the population, despite heavy investment in rail:

That data is from here. BUT, what's been happening to our population the last few years? From here, we find that the SLC metropolitan area's population has been growing about 1.8%/yr (3.3% growth from 2010-2012) and much of this growth is occurring in the outlying suburbs of West Jordan, WVC, and South Jordan, and Draper (which aren't exactly at the core of the UTA system). So, to keep ridership the same as a percentage of the area's population, UTA has to maintain ridership growth at about 2% per year.

But what about those trains no one rides? Or what about the trains taking funding away from buses?

According to these rankings from Wikipedia, TRAX had ridership of 17 million in 2012 which is the ninth highest ridership in the country (in raw numbers), and is ahead of much larger cities like St Louis, Seattle, and Minneapolis. And good for Utah and UTA!

While BRT and regular bus expansion does provide more bang for the buck, SLC should be proud of the success of TRAX and excited about the possibilities of UTA expansion.

Monday, March 3, 2014

SLC may let West Jordan become most populated city in Utah

West Jordan: future Wasatch Front power center?
One of the greatest demographic trends in Salt Lake County over the last 40 years has been the enormous population growth in the suburbs. Of course, this mirrors what has happened in the rest of the country. This matters not only because of economic, city planning, health, and transportation reasons, but also because of the power that comes from people. Broadly, population is a sign of a city’s virility and cities compete to win people the same way that businesses compete for customers. One of the main reasons for this is the tax base people provide. In extreme cases, out migration leads to a shrinking tax base which leads to cuts in important services, which causes more people to leave, which leads to further cuts in services (think Detroit).

While Salt Lake City isn't in such a conundrum, the city is suffering from a notable shift of regional power towards the south and west that has been accelerated the last few years via population shifts, but also the mini tech boom centered around Lehi and the many businesses locating in the Cottonwood Corporate Center in Cottonwood Heights. Population sprawl leads to job sprawl, and increasingly companies are basing themselves outside of Salt Lake City proper. While this is partially due to the fact that that’s now where the people are, it’s also driven by the relatively high costs of office space in SLC proper. (We’ll go into how to solve this in a future post.)

As an example of these shifts, and to kick off the series on SLC’s relative jobs decline, we’ll first quickly present some data on how SLC is losing the battle for population.

The data is from Wikipedia. As a symptom of these underlying demographic shifts, West Jordan or West Valley City could easily be the largest city in the state by ~2050. Considering that West Jordan has grown by over 50% each decade since 1970, they could plausibly surpass SLC's population by 2040. Sure, it’s easy to grow fast from a small base, but WVC and West Jordan still have plenty of land and have shown that they’re willing to build.

If SLC doesn't rethink some of its restrictions on new construction, the people and jobs will continue to flow elsewhere.

Note: for an example of the power of population, compare Springfield (the Illinois state capitol) and Chicago. More data on Salt Lake Valley population trends can be found here.