BYU students pack Provo town hall to oppose paid street parking
The Provo City Council is considering a proposal to create paid parking zones in the Joaquin neighborhood, but on Thursday many BYU students showed up to a town hall to push back against the idea.
The council approved an ordinance Tuesday that allows the city to create areas where parking on public streets is restricted. This practice is not currently in place anywhere in Provo. Designating an On-Street Parking Management zone requires approval from the council.
The city’s parking committee pushed for creating one of these zones directly south of BYU's campus where a lot of students live.
During Thursday’s meeting, students filled the chambers for the bulk of the two hour meeting. A few attendees brought signs with messages like "students against parking meters."
Many of them said they have to park on the street because their apartment complexes have more residents with cars than parking spaces. Some students received emails from their landlords encouraging them to attend the meeting and voice their opposition.
Councilor David Harding said this practice might force apartment complexes to create more off-street parking if students choose not to live there because they have to pay to park on the street.
"But right now we are using a public resource, the on-street space, that costs a lot to build, costs a lot to maintain,” he said. “And we're subsidizing the complexes that do not have enough off-street parking."
Others said this would unfairly affect students more than other residents.
"It seems like this law would really target college students, who don't have money to throw around on parking," said Ben Wedekind over Zoom. "Are those really the people you want to be hurting?"
Many attendees said they did not feel like the city council cared about students' opinions. In October, Provo sent out a survey asking for feedback on creating paid parking areas citywide. About 80% of respondents were against the proposal.
"So my question is, when so many of BYU students have said no ... as our representatives, why is this still going forward?" Gavin Thornburg, a BYU student said.
But some people were in favor of the proposal. Kira Johnson works in the Joaquin neighborhood and said there are costs to free parking. She said taxes are being spent on it when that money could be used in other ways.
"It costs to maintain street asphalt," Johnson said. "Our funds should be put towards that network of making it safer for people to walk and to bike, and to take public transit."
Council members said they will not be voting on this issue for a at least a few months. They said they want to see how the parking situation in Joaquin changes after BYU's new housing policy is implemented next fall.