SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) — With Utah’s boom in population over the last decade, the question has become, “How does Utah grow responsibly?” To gain insight into what Utahns themselves prioritize, leaders sent out a survey and thousands responded.

More than 28,000 Utahns responded to the survey, which is part of a government-funded initiative meant to best prepare for the increasing population called Guiding Our Growth. The survey focused on housing, water, transportation, and open spaces.

The survey used an interesting method by first providing lists of pros and cons designed by experts on the issues, the press release said. Survey participants analyzed the options, and then made their preferred choice, also leaving comments.

Overall, officials say the survey has revealed most Utahns are feeling pressure from the state’s growing population, but they don’t necessarily want to stop that growth.

The results vary by demographic and can be read in full here, however, here’s a quick summary:


  • Urban Utahns want more housing and more variety in housing options, with younger residents even more interested in new housing development.
  • A majority of urban residents also said they would like strip malls and big box stores to be converted into housing.
  • Rural Utahns expressed a desire for more development around town centers and main streets. However, a majority disagreed with “building new housing on large, spread-out lots.”

Water Conservation

  • Overall, Utahns expressed a desire for “aggressive water conservation efforts,” according to officials.
  • A majority of urban Utahns chose the most aggressive option for water conservation and supported low-water landscaping requirements for new developments
  • Rural Utahns also supported water conservation efforts and discussed the need to optimize water usage in agricultural processes.


  • Urban Utahns supported investing in public transportation and town centers that increase walkability and biking in the community.
  • Over 50% of rural Utahns said they wanted public transportation that connected small towns to big cities and improvement in road, highway, and sidewalk maintenance. Just over half also supported public transportation in tourist areas.

Open Spaces

  • In summary, survey participants want to preserve open spaces “within and on the edges of their communities.”
  • A large majority of urban Utahns said they agreed with recreational investment in both natural areas and urban areas.
  • A slight majority of rural residents were interested in a statewide trail network. They also expressed a strong desire to preserve the open, country feel in rural Utah.

The next steps for Guiding Our Growth include facilitating workshops, seeing how survey results align with current plans, and giving these recommendations to policymakers. The survey was just one step in a conversation that was initiated several years ago but has the potential to shape statewide policies moving forward.