PROVO Provo bills itself as a family-friendly city that doubles as the home of an estimated 35,000 college students.
The sometimes natural tension between the two communities is most evident on the outskirts of Brigham Young University, where off-campus apartments and condos bump up against family neighborhoods.
It's there that elderly couples or parents with young children regularly call Provo police to complain about late and loud parties, speeding vehicles and streets lined with parked cars.
And it's in these neighborhoods that the Provo City Council is beginning to restrict parking on city streets, banning students and everyone else except people living in homes in the area.
The council voted unanimously late Tuesday night to create parking permit programs near Seven Peaks Water Park. Only residents of homes in the area will be eligible to obtain permits to park on the streets in the Foothill Park and University Gardens areas north of the water park. The permit programs begin Jan. 1 and:
• Ban all overnight parking in the Foothill Park area. Only residents of homes will be given permits to park on the streets during the day, between 5:30 a.m. and 12:30 a.m.
• Ban all daytime parking in the University Gardens/North Foothill. Residents with permits will be able to park overnight between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m.
Provo Mayor Lewis Billings and the seven City Council members repeatedly said they sympathize with the students and other college-age tenants who live in the apartments and condos at the Belmont, Arlington, Arlington Heights, Highland Park and King Henry complexes.
They also stressed that they value BYU and its contribution to the city, but Councilwoman Cynthia Dayton said "we also have to respect the needs of the other residents. We need to allow them to have a family experience in a family neighborhood."
The parking permit programs are the council's last-ditch attempt to force landlords to stop overcrowding their apartments and condos. Many landlords are renting to an illegal number of tenants, who park their additional cars in nearby family neighborhoods.
"If the students find out they won't have a place to park, they'll be less likely to live in a place that illegally houses too many occupants," council chairman George Stewart said.
More than 100 students and other tenants in the condo and apartment complexes attended Tuesday night's meeting. Many said they shouldn't be the ones punished for bad behavior by landlords. They also wondered where they will park from January to September, when their leases run out.
The council and a local attorney said students have a legal way out of their leases if their landlords don't provide enough parking for them in their complexes.
The problem began years ago when the condo and apartment complexes failed to provide enough parking for residents on their property. That has forced the students who live there and attend BYU, Utah Valley State College and area vocational schools, or residents who are are working and live there to be near college students, to park on neighborhood streets.
The residents of the homes in those neighborhoods told horror stories during Tuesday night's public hearing. Leo Teemant said groups of college-age men regularly park on his street, troop through his family's yard at 1 a.m. and jump a 6-foot fence.
"To make it easier," he said, "they kick out the fence in our back yard." Others said they have been treated rudely. In all, more than 40 people on both sides spoke before the council's votes.
Students complained Tuesday night the new permit programs would leave no place for their families and friends to park when they visit. Stewart said the programs are works in progress and he and other city leaders will consider adding parking on one side of the street on Seven Peaks Boulevard to provide a little relief.
At times the debate devolved into heavily partisan stereotyping. One resident, who works at BYU, described a pleasant conversation with a BYU student that drove home the need for both families and students in Provo.
After listening to the problems the woman's family experiences with students parking in its neighborhood, the student told her she should consider moving."You always say, 'What would BYU do without students?"' the woman said to students in the meeting. "I say, 'What would BYU do without professors?"'BYU President Cecil Samuelson recently urged Utah Valley leaders to remember that not all college-age students in the valley are BYU students. The university also has made all parking on campus free to students in an effort to alleviate problems in surrounding neighborhoods.
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