Last Friday we let loose with a post about the Provo parking debacle. Debacle. Seems to be everyone’s fav word to describe the situation. We explained how we thought the parking thing fit into a greater debate about property rights–not only in the city of Provo, but nationwide.
In conversation with a number of different friends, we found that maybe we didn’t make it as clear as we thought we did or should.
For a number of years, the Provo City Council has done whatever it could to limit occupancy in new construction–a clear violation of property rights. It–they, whatever–has tried to do the same thing with existing structures bylimiting, for example, the number of students who could live in a given house. Unfortunately for them, these houses were constructed before the enactment of these new rules and by and large they have been able to avoid the Provo City Council’s tyrannical, property-right violatin’ ways.
But finally, they hit upon a solution. In parking they trust. By limiting the number of “street parking permits” for each house, etc., they could essentially limit the number of occupants. If a given house only had 3 parking spots, how could they reasonably expect to rent to 4, 5, or even 6 students? They couldn’t. And the Provo City Council is aware of this.
So who loses? Students, any new owner/renter, and owners of properties that currently rent to students. By limiting the number of parking spots and thus, students per habitation, they in effect limit the sources of income for the owner. Rather than renting 1 house X 6 rooms to 6 students at $200 per = $1200 per month, the property owner has to generate $1200 from 3 student-renters. But this probably wont happen either, because the market wont bear a 2x increase in the cost of rent. The students will go elsewhere. Or the owner will buck the law.
It doesn’t help that BYU has limited student housing to a 2 mile radius around campus. This makes it more difficult for students to avoid the ridiculous, property rights violating, rent price escalating, car parking limiting ways of the Provo City Council. It’s as though the two groups got together to come up with the best way to raise the cost of living for students.
Mind you, the neighborhoods they are trying to protect/maintain the ambience, etc., are overwhelmingly dominated by the student population. The student to regular-joe-citizen rate exceeds 10-to-1. And it’s not as though parking problems just cropped up in the last couple years or so, screaming for the legislative attention of the all powerful Provo City Council. Nor are these issues any different to the problems faced in any other college town across the country. What is different is the complete disregard for the student population shown by the Provo City Council. They absolutely could not care less.
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