Skip to main content

South Salt Lake Journal

City study shows crime, public safety are top future issues

Jan 25, 2021 11:18AM ● By Bill Hardesty

According to the SSL Community Value Study, 61% of residents never heard of Promise SSL. (Bill Hardesty/City Journals)

By Bill Hardesty | [email protected]

The South Salt Lake Community Values Study results were presented to the City Council during their Jan. 13 work meeting. Y2 Analytics did the study during November and December 2020. The results were presented by Kyrene Gibb, a former resident of SSL.

The survey showed that four out of five residents say the city is headed in the right direction. Such results bode well for Mayor Cherie Wood if she decides to seek another term this year.

“My staff and I are excited about getting to work this year. We believe the Community Value Study will help us steer the ship,” Wood said. “Residents are our greatest asset, and we continue to invest and better the city they call home.”

Top results

In addition to the heading-in-the-right-direction results, the survey also showed that 43% say the city has gotten better in the last five years, and 52% say the city has improved over time.

Eighteen percent of the respondents hadn’t lived in SSL long enough to make the comparison, which indicates the population growth SSL is experiencing.

When looking at the perceived value of city services and utility fees, the results were mostly average, but very few residents voiced dissatisfaction with the value they received.

Most residents like the safety and accessibility of SSL. SSL is generally perceived as a convenient, affordable community to live in.

Crime and public safety and maintaining neighborhood character are seen as top planning priorities for the future. More safe places to walk and bike are the most appealing types of projects to the residents, and internet access and affordable housing are important personal issues.

One in three (34%) residents say they trust the SSL Police Department a great deal, with 44% expressing a moderate amount of trust. This leaves about one out of four residents who indicate having a small amount or no trust in local police. 

Community Outlook

Forty-three percent of respondents say SSL is better than it was five years ago. On the other hand, 16% of respondents say the city has gotten somewhat or much worst over the same period.

Respondents were asked to give a Quality of Life score between 0-100. The average score was 68. Seventy-four percent of respondents gave Quality of Life scores above 50. Looking at tenure in the city showed no significant difference. The average score for residents with 10 years or less was 68, those who have lived in SSL 11-20 years had an average of 65, and those with over 20 had an average score of 69.

The Quality of Life scores varied per council district. See the chart for the breakdown.

There was only a slight difference between homeowners and renters (67 vs. 69).

They looked at the perceived feeling about the value received for utility fees and property tax. Only 33% felt the value was excellent or good for property tax. Forty-five percent felt the value was excellent or good for utility fees. Nearly the majority in each category rated the value as average.

The perceived value varied per district. See the chart for the breakdown.

When asked about various city services, Garbage collection (75% favorable) and Fire and Emergency Medical Services (84% favorable) rated the highest. Community events (38% favorable) and street lighting (33% unfavorable) were at the bottom of the list.

Community issues

When asked, “What was the most important issue facing SSL?,” 27% of respondents said crime and drugs. Homelessness wasn’t far behind at 25%. Dislike of leadership (2%) and lack of amenities (2%) were at the bottom.

About affordable housing, over 75% of respondents said that their current residence was affordable. Sixty-one percent felt safe living in SSL. Sixty-eight percent felt SSL had transportation options to meet their needs. Seventy-two percent felt there was a good mix of business and services they needed. Even 50% (the lowest score) felt that SSL had all the parks and recreation opportunities they needed.

Issues for the future

According to 97% of respondents, crime and public safety was the top future issue, saying it is very or somewhat important. Maintain neighborhoods also came in at 97%. The lowest on the list was options for after-school care, which was at 78% very or somewhat important.

When asked, “Which of the following projects should South Salt prioritize for the future?,” 58% said more safe places to walk and bike. This request was followed by a new recreation center (41%), a new senior center (23%), a new public computer lab (23%), other (20%), a new city hall (8%), and none of the above (7%).

The study showed a need to grow the awareness of Promise SSL programs. When asked, “If they ever heard about the Promise SSL program?,” 61% reported they heard of it, and only 7% know of people who have participated in Promise programs.


Only 34% of respondents said they trust the police department a great deal. Forty-four percent said they trust a moderate amount. Eight percent said they had no trust at all.

When the data was cut by age, older residents trusted the police department a great deal (41%) versus those under 55 years of age (31%).

When the data was cut around racial lines, 38% of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) trusted the police department a great deal while only 31% of white residents trust a great deal.

When the data was cut over district lines, District 2 has the highest trust level (86%). District 1 (26% small amount to not at all) and District 4 (24%) have the least amount of trust. District 1 is in the northeast section of the city, and District 4 is in the southeast area. District 2 is the largest district and runs nearly across the city.

Respondent overview

When asked to describe living arrangements, respondents were almost evenly split between owning a home and renting (42% vs. 41%).

When asked how long they have lived in SSL, those less than two years and those 21 years or more were roughly the same (17% vs. 18%). By one percentage point, the largest group at 23% is 11-20 years.

About age, 42% of respondents are 18-34; 21% are 35-44; 27% were 45-64; and 10% were 65 or older. This means that SSL is a noticeably young city, which might account for the desire for more recreational opportunities.

Looking at ethnic groups, 54% reported they were white/Caucasian. Hispanics/Latinos accounted for 20%. Asians at 7%. Native American and other both were at 5% each. Black/African American was 4%. Pacific Islanders account for 1%.

Thirty-nine percent of respondents reported they were married, and 39% reported they were single. Twelve percent reported they were living with a partner, 7% were divorced, and 3% were widowed. 

The gender breakdown was 48% female and 52% male.


Survey invitations were sent to randomly selected households within city boundaries. They were sent by email, phone, and USPS mail. Interviews were completed online and via live-dial telephone interviews. Online responses were collected from Nov. 19-Dec. 9, 2020, and phone responses from Nov. 23-23, 2020.

Of all invitations, the survey had a 5% response rate. A total of 648 residents responded to the survey. One hundred and fourteen were live telephone interviews, with the remaining completed online. Y2 Analytics is confident that this was a good statistical sampling of SSL residents.

The margin of error for the survey is plus or minus 3.8 percentage points.