The 2015 Utah's Freest Cities Ranking

Commerce Regulations

Category: Free Enterprise

Some cities impose requirements that certain businesses close at particular hours or on particular days. This form of micromanagement interferes in a free enterprise system where such decisions are best left to the marketplace. If a business finds it profitable to operate at a particular time, it shouldn't be arbitrarily restricted from doing so provided that their operation does not infringe upon another person's rights.

For the first measure we looked at regulations that limit the hours or days of operation for most businesses except for those businesses that are regulated specifically as construction activity for noise reasons. Most of these regulations consist of mandates for businesses to close in the evening. Some of these regulations are arguably targeted to issues that impact the rights of other neighboring property owners and may be designed to reduce nuisances while some regulations may not be clearly targeted to do so. This metric distinguishes between these two types of regulations and scores them accordingly.

"Nuisance-related" regulations are reasonably designed to protect property owners' quiet enjoyment by regulating potential nuisance activity in residential zones after 8PM and before 9AM, or preventing commercial traffic in residential areas outside of business hours, or regulating things directly related to criminal activity in the city.

"Non-nuisance-related" regulations are those that regulate commercial activity that is not reasonably likely to take place in residential zones during evening hours or otherwise infringe on property owners' quiet enjoyment or is not directly related to criminal activity in the city.

After surveying the municipal code we found each regulation that imposes limits on the hours or days of operation for a business and categorized them based on the above criteria. We then scored each city based on how many of these types of regulations they had according to the following ordinal scale:

  1. 5 or more non-nuisance regulations
  2. 2-4 non-nuisance regulations
  3. 1 non-nuisance regulation
  4. 5 or more nuisance related regulations
  5. 2-4 nuisance related regulations
  6. 1 nuisance related regulation
  7. No regulations found

For the second measure, we looked at regulations that restrict construction or other noisy activity during business or daylight hours of any day. Whereas the first measure was mostly related to restrictions on businesses in the evening for any reason, this measure looks at restrictions during the day. We used a simple binary score to reflect whether a city had any regulations of this type.

For the last measure, we looked at regulations that restrict business on Sunday. Many commonly refer to these as "blue laws." These restrictions might refer to the sabbath, the first day of the week, or one day of the weekend. Any law that restricts a business from operating on a Sunday during daylight or business hours was counted. For this measure we also used a simple binary score to reflect whether a city had any regulations of this type.

A statistical z-score was created for a city for each measure individually and then the three measures were totaled for each city with weights of 65% for hours of operation, 15% for daytime commercial noise, and 20% for Sunday restrictions. The metric counted for 10% of the overall Free Enterprise category.

To see a specific city's laws for this metric, click on its name in the right column, then find the row in the table below the Free Enterprise category.

City Scores

To learn about our scoring methodology, click here.

Rank City Score
1Cedar City1.789
5Eagle Mountain1.061
6Woods Cross1.029
8North Ogden0.681
8Saratoga Springs0.681
11Brigham City0.269
11Cedar Hills0.269
11North Salt Lake0.269
11South Jordan0.269
20American Fork-0.078
20West Haven-0.078
23Heber City-0.111
23Pleasant Grove-0.111
23Spanish Fork-0.111
23West Jordan-0.111
23West Valley City-0.111
35Salt Lake City-0.491
42Cottonwood Heights-0.838
45St. George-0.910
46South Ogden-0.942
46South Salt Lake-0.942