PROVO — On Monday, Brigham Young University students railed at Provo City Council members for more than two hours about a proposal to restrict parking on the public streets south of campus.

On Tuesday, the council made major changes to the plan and encouraged students, landlords and neighborhood homeowners to provide new feedback quickly. The council might vote on the proposal at its next meeting, which is scheduled Tuesday.

"For BYU students to say we haven't listened now is not valid," council chairman George Stewart said. "We made many changes to the program based on the feedback we got (Monday) night."

Two proposals would restrict parking along the streets directly south of BYU in the Joaquin neighborhood. Students have derided the proposal for the North Joaquin area, dominated by student rentals. The area stretches from the south end of campus at 800 North to 500 North, and from University Avenue to 900 East.

Under the plan, homeowners living in their homes and landlords without enough parking on their property could buy permits. Only those who live in the neighborhood, mostly BYU students, would be able to use the permits to park on the streets in the permit district. The permit program would not go into effect before September 2008.

The biggest change to the proposal addressed visitor parking, literally a passionate point for students. They didn't like the idea of having to buy a $2 visitor parking permit for each visit by a friend or relative — or soon-to-be relative.

"Think back to when you were dating your wife," one student said to Stewart Monday night. "Imagine if you had to pay $2 every time you wanted to see her."

Another envisioned having to say, "Sorry, mom, I can't afford to have you come and visit."

"By golly," homeowner John Smith added, "I'm not going to pay Provo a nickel to have my children come home to show us our grandkids."

The solution proposed Tuesday is to enforce the parking permits only between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m.

Projections by city staff show the city would lose $115,000 the first year, in part because of the high cost of signs, but make $148,000 the second year. Council members, clearly stung by accusations the city would profit on student backs, said they would manage the program so revenues only covered expenses.

Once proposed to be a year-round program, the council also altered it to match BYU's fall and winter semesters, running from Sept. 1 to May 1.

Landlords, students and homeowners can provide feedback on the changes online at parking.provo.org or by phone at 801-852-6120.

New data surfaced Tuesday based on licenses issued to landlords. The entire Joaquin neighborhood, which stretches south to Center Street, is approved for rentals to 11,991 singles. The area has 11,289 parking spots — 3,380 on neighborhood streets and 7,909 off the streets on landlord property.

Provo ordinances require landlords to provide parking on their property, off the streets, for most of their tenants. Some are no longer allowed to rent all their rooms because they don't have enough on-site parking. Stewart and council attorney Neil Lindberg said those landlords support the program.

"They realize that if they could qualify to fill all their beds by buying on-street parking permits, they would be better off," Lindberg said.

Reports of the Monday night meeting, in which the original proposal was called appalling and was criticized by virtually all of the 65 students who attended, spurred Mayor Lewis Billings to encourage the council to hone its message — that barring commuter students from parking in the neighborhood would benefit the BYU students who live there.

"It sounds like the students have completely missed the point of this program," Billings told the council. "You're trying to create for those who rent and live there a reasonable expectation that they'll be able to park there. They feel there's this great wrong being perpetrated on them, but what you're trying to say is, 'If you don't live there, park somewhere else."'

Joaquin neighborhood chairman Kurt Peterson welcomed the council's changes.

"Now I think the best description of this is a commuter-reduction parking plan," he said. "That's really what it's become."

The council voted unanimously to hold a public hearing on the proposed permit program at the next council meeting, which is scheduled for Tuesday at 7 p.m. at the City Center, 351 W. Center. It's likely the council will vote on the proposal then.

A public hearing also will be held on the plan to create a separate parking permit program for the South Joaquin area that stretches from 500 North to Center Street. Council members said they will not vote on that proposal because it is not ready.


E-mail: twalch@desnews.com