The 2015 Utah's Freest Cities Ranking

Salt Lake City (50/50)(1 is most free, 50 is least free)

To learn what the below scores mean and how they were calculated, read our ranking methodology.

Individual Liberty (49/50)

This category compiles scores on 17 different data points to determine how well Salt Lake City respects and protects the liberty of its citizens.

Metric Rank Category Weight Description Reference
Code Accessiblity110%This city uses an online, easily navigable and searchable database for its city laws.Sterling Codifiers database
Dog Licensing1710%Depending on whether the dog is fixed or not and the length of the license you purchase, licensing fees for each dog ranges from $6.66 to $35.Salt Lake Co. Animal Services
Free Speech4515%This city requires a permit to stage a protest on public property, along with payment of a $5 fee.Free Expression Permit
Daytime Curfew110%This city does not impose a daytime curfew on minors.
Vice Regulation3410%This city exceeds the regulations of state law on public consumption of alcohol by prohibiting beer in all public places. Smoking is also prohibited in certain outdoor areas.11-12-065, 15-30-020
Campaign Contribution Limits4810%This city regulates free speech by imposing campaign contribution limits for city elections. The contribution limit for a mayoral candidate is $7,500 and the limit for a council candidate is $1,500.2-46-050
Loitering3110%The loitering laws in this city prohibit loitering on school grounds without lawful business or loitering for rmore than two minutes if obstructing free passage on sidewalks.11-12-040(c), 14-20-100
Violation of Ordinances1110%While some ordinances may impose a specific penalty, in Salt Lake City the default penalty for a violation of any city ordinance, if not specified, is a class B misdemeanor which carries a fine of up to $1,000.1-12-050, 1-12-050(a), 1-12-050(b)
Gun Regulation4715%Under authority granted from state law, Salt Lake City has chosen to regulate the discharge of firearms in city limits with no exceptions for self-defense or other lawful uses made explicit in code. The city's law also has additional provisions regulating firearms that may be inconsistent with state and federal law. This includes:
• Possession of firearms prohibited in airports.
• Carrying a firearm is prohibited in parks..
11-48-060, 16-12-260, 15-08-100, 11-48-010

Private Property (49/50)

63 different data points are included in this category to discern the degree to which Salt Lake City respects and protects private property rights.

Metric Rank Category Weight Description Reference
Conditional Use Permit Fees4910%The cost of a conditional use permit is 728. Additionally, the city may charge a fee of 0.50 cents per notice.Fee Schedule
Home Building Fees2610%The total cost of permit fees for building a typical single family home is $8,181. This includes $2,635 in permit fees, $3,833 in impact fees, $1,713 in site plan approval fees, and no plan check fees.Fee schedule
Animal Restrictions515%Chickens are permitted in at least one residential zone with a $40 permit. Beehives are permitted in residential zones without a permit. Assuming a lot size of 0.15 acres, this city allows dogs with no specific arbitrary limit, allows 15 chickens, and 5 beehives.8-04-070(F), 8-08-065
, 8-10-030
Short-term Rentals1715%This city prohibits property owners from renting their residential property on a short-term basis as is often done through services like Airbnb and VRBO.Per city staff
Taxes & Cost of Government4630%The cost of government in Salt Lake City as a share of the total taxable economic base is $105 per $10,000. As a share of total personal income, the cost is $515 per $10,000. On a per capita basis, the cost is $1,183. The city gets 40% of its tax revenue from property taxes, 25% of its tax revenue from sales tax, and 35% from other sources including fees and fines.City Financial Statements
Bonded Debt4015%The city is currently utilizing 5.80% of thier debt limit for general obligation bonds; however, if calculated for all bonds (including revenue bonds), the utilization would be 13.55%.City Financial Statements
Lobbying495%During the past two years, Salt Lake City has spent an average of $158,750 each year to hire lobbyists to represent the city.Per Records Request

This city also has restrictive land use ordinances that violate property rights.

Free Enterprise (49/50)

The final category includes 35 different data points in an effort to review Salt Lake City's protection—or violation—of the free market.

Metric Rank Category Weight Description Reference
City-owned Enterprises3515%This city owns 5 enterprises that could instead be offered by the private market: a redevelopment agency; a garbage collection service; a recycling service; a golf course; a sports arena; City Financial Statements
Beer Sale Restrictions110%This city does not impose any day or time restrictions on the retail sale of beer.5-51-100
Alcohol Licensing1410%The city requires $287 for a retail beer license, $227 for a restaurant license, and $321 for a tavern license.City Fee Schedule
Sales Tax4120%This city imposes a combined sales tax rate of 6.85% on its citizens. Additionally, residents are required to pay a RAP tax at the rate of 0.1%. The city also has a municipal energy tax rate of 6.0%, a transient room tax at 5.75%, and a leasing tax at 7.5%.State Tax Commission
Business Licensing5035%This city charges the following licensing fees: $111 for a home occupation license; $264 for a small commercial license; $12897 for a large commercial license; $216 for a temporary firework stand; $217 for a temporary christmas tree lot; and $296 for two solicitor licenses. The city also has a Good Landlord program that reduces the high per-unit rental fees if landlords comply with additional city regulations.City Fee Schedule
Commerce Regulations3510%Salt Lake City prohibits the sale of valuable articles at auction between 6pm and 8am. No business licensed for sale of numismatic or bullion items may be open between 7pm and 7am. Pawnshops or secondhand dealers may not be open between 7pm and 7am. No restaurant entertainment is allowed between 1am and 6am. Vending carts are not allowed on sidewalks between midnight and 6am. Pool halls must be closed from midnight to 8am. No dancing is allowed between 2am and 8am at any dance hall, restaurant, tavern, social club, or public or private school,. Home occupations may not have visitors from 10pm to 8am, and no deliveries from 6pm to 8am. Sorority and frat5-16-230

City Data

Overall Ranking: 50/50

Click here to compare Salt Lake City's data compared to the other cities.

Year incorporated: 1851
Population (2010): 186,440
FoG: Council-Mayor

County: Salt Lake
Class: 1
Cluster: A

MHI: $45,862.00

Best Score

Daytime Curfew

Worst Score

Business Licensing