Cough, Hack | Urban Living
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Cough, Hack



"Remember when atmospheric contaminants were romantically called stardust?" —Author Lane Olinghouse

Welcome Sun (cough) dance visitors to (hack) Utah! That's right, tens of thousands of people will soon land at the Salt Lake City International Airport for the famous film fest. But if the inversion is still around, ticket holders might think they've landed in New Delhi, where the smog this past fall put everything at a standstill. They'll Uber their way up the canyon to blue skies and maybe complain that their driver ran red lights along the way—except the driver knows the smog is so thick that the police can't read his license plate.

Locals along the Wasatch Front expect inversions during January. Sadly, the upside-down air showed up in December and just stayed and stayed because storms aren't coming through to clean out our big geographical cereal bowl. According to Intermountain Healthcare about 230,000 Utahns suffer from asthma and some 500,000 have cardiovascular disease—and all of them are in trouble the thicker the air gets. You know it's bad, I know it's bad and we know we can do things to reduce the inversion, but few people are actively trying. Even though the Salt Lake City Council, Salt Lake County and UTA recently sponsored a free day of public transportation to get people riding, the majority of citizens still drove their cars to work, shop or school.

I'm seeing a trend for homeowners wanting to leave the valley and move to rural areas, and home buyers wanting to purchase something "above the inversion level." I recently had one couple plot out the GPS location and altitude of where they wanted to live on the Salt Lake benches. I would take them from listing to listing in the Avenues and Olympus Cove and they would start up their measuring aps and tell me yea or nay depending on if the home was above or below the smog level. There's no way to search the MLS for "homes above the smog level" and, indeed, our dirty air levels go up and down.

One developer I work with has a hatred of SLC's bad air and offers an extra interior air filter to potential buyers, since we spend many hours inside sleeping and eating. At least some of our air could be clean before we walk outside, right? Working air filters are becoming something buyers look for in homes and home owners are installing.

Once again, welcome Sun (cough, hack) dance visitors. Maybe we'll get some storms to suck out the muck and you'll think we're beautiful from airport to Park City.