OGDEN — Students from the DaVinci Academy of Science and the Arts want Ogden City to get tougher on vehicle idling.
And it appears the council is receptive to the idea.
DaVinci Academy students Grace Johnston and Rachel Love, who are co-presidents of the school’s Conservation Club and members of Utah Youth Environmental Solutions, addressed the council earlier this week, asking the body to implement a no-idling ordinance.
For several years, the city typically partners with entities like Ogden School Board, Weber State University’s Office of Sustainability and the Weber-Morgan Health Department to approve a joint proclamation declaring a particular week of the year as “Idle-Free Week.”
The pair said they appreciate the proclamation, but think the city needs to take it a step farther, with an ordinance that includes punitive action for excessive idling.
Johnston said data from on-site, school air monitors shows spikes in air pollution at the beginning and end of each school day and during special events at DaVinci.
“Every day, we see parents waiting outside for their kids while idling,” Johnston said. “For up to an hour at the start and end of school, as well as before and after ... other events or performances.”
The idling occurs in spite of the fact the school is designated as an idle-free zone, with signs posted.
Johnston said those spikes in air pollution harm students, teachers and staff inside the school, as well as the occupants in the cars that are idling.
“Those toxins that you are creating are becoming part of the air inside the car,” Johnston said. “While it may be keeping the child warm, it is creating a larger health concern and possible lifelong consequences.”
According to the World Health Organization, air pollution increases risks for asthma, miscarriage, heart attacks, respiratory illnesses and more. It also compromises the immune system.
Johnston also opined that poor air quality will have impact on Ogden’s outdoor recreation and tourism industries, saying, “Seeing a layer of haze that sits above Ogden ruins the experience.”
Love said other Utah cities like Salt Lake City, Logan, Park City, Alta, Murray, Cottonwood and Sandy have implemented anti-idling ordinances. The Salt Lake City ordinance allows for warnings and eventually fines for those who idle unnecessarily for more than two minutes. There are exceptions, like extreme temperatures.
Love said the ordinance is less about punishment and “more about creating a dialogue that (the) city is creating action toward better air quality.”
The teens said they have a petition signed by more than 400 people who would like to see Ogden adopt an ordinance similar to Salt Lake City’s.
“Suggestions ... are not good enough,” Love said. “Not when the health of our city and our children is the price we have to pay.”
Council member Luis Lopez told the students he wants to work with them and his council peers on a potential ordinance.
Council members Marcia White, Ben Nadolski and Angela Choberka also commended the students.
White said with limited police resources in Ogden, enforcement would be a challenge if a new ordinance were adopted.