Over the next two weeks, a whopping 73 percent of adult Utahns will make New Year’s resolutions, making us the most resolution-prone state in the country. That’s not entirely true—in fact we made it up. But 73 percent of Utahns think it’s important to have a plan to accommodate future growth. And isn’t that kind of the same thing? 

A recent Dan Jones poll found that 73 percent of Utahns feel that planning for growth is “very important,” while only 6 percent say it is not important. Envision Utah has actually asked this question before in our 1997, 2007, and 2014 values studies, but with an important follow up: “How do you feel Utah is performing in making its plans for the future a reality?” The results tend to be a little more blasé—just over half of us feel we’re performing “fair” or “poor” when it comes to planning for the future, while only 3 percent of Utahns feel our performance is excellent.

This is a pattern we’re seeing throughout the country. We asked residents in Orlando, Florida and Omaha, Nebraska the same questions and got surprisingly similar results—people want to have long-range, strategic plans for the future, but don’t feel like they have a voice in the creation or implementation of those plans.

That’s why, a little over three years ago, Envision Utah brought together hundreds of stakeholders and experts and 53,000 Utahns to create a statewide vision for 2050 called Your Utah, Your Future. The process helped Utahns describe what they wanted for the future and provided strategies to make that future a reality. That vision is alive and well today and has become foundational to the way we’re building our communities. A couple of examples:

  • Since 2010, over 40 percent of new multifamily housing units have been built within walking distance of a rail station. At the same time, about half of new housing units have been attached products such as apartments and townhomes. That means reduced household costs, air emissions, traffic, infrastructure costs, and land consumption.
  • Air quality in Utah is improving significantly. Among other strategies, many of the refineries serving Utah are upgrading to offer lower-emission “tier 3” fuel, builders are improving the energy efficiency of the homes and buildings they construct, and all new water heaters are now required to be ultra low-NOx. Similar progress is being made on water, and Utahns are now using less than 167 gallons of potable water per capita per day—down from 185 in 2010, and 237 in 2000.
  • At the state level, major efforts are underway to attract jobs to rural areas, and because new development is more compact, the rate of loss of our farmland has slowed significantly.
  • While we’re not yet where we want to be, significant action has been taken to improve education outcomes throughout the state. The Governor’s Education Excellence Commission has established a roadmap to improve education that includes the strategies from Your Utah, Your Future, teacher induction and mentorship programs are expanding and improving, and teacher salaries have increased to improve the ability to recruit and retain good teachers.

There is still a lot of work to do, but we have a vision for the future and there are some extraordinary things being done to engage Utahns to make the vision a reality. So please, get involved and share your voice! It’s up to all of us to work together and ensure that Utah stays a great place to live, both now and in the future. You can learn more about the vision at https://yourutahyourfuture.org/.