PROVO The whole idea of restricting parking along city streets just south of Brigham Young University has been turned upside down.
If this were presidential politics, pundits would call it a flip-flop. Provo City Council members say they simply changed their minds after studying the issue for nearly a year.
The council reconsidered all of its assumptions after new data showed the area isn't plagued by students who park on the streets and walk to class, council chairwoman Cindy Richards said.
A new proposal would allow free, unregulated parking on the city streets between 500 North and BYU's southern border on 800 North. Permits would be required to park on those streets between 1 a.m. and 6 a.m.
The initial proposal was a polar opposite: Permits would be required for parking on the streets during the day. Free parking would be allowed overnight, beginning in the late afternoon or early evening.
Those daytime permits appeared inevitable on Nov. 21, until three hours before the City Council was expected to vote for them. That's when a letter from BYU administrators arrived asking for a postponement and reconsideration.
The council agreed, and on Wednesday, council leadership proposed the new plan requiring permits only from 1 a.m. to 6 a.m. The permits would be enforced between Sept. 1 and April 30, except for Thanksgiving weekend, Christmas Eve through New Year's Day, Easter and the day before and after BYU graduation.
One reason the council agreed to BYU's request to reconsider was the clear difference between two areas of the Joaquin Neighborhood. North Joaquin, the area where nighttime parking permits are proposed, is where BYU and Provo want single college students to live and is dominated by apartments and condos.
South Joaquin, from 500 North to Center Street, is marked by homes Provo wants to be occupied by the homeowners. The city doesn't want students renting those homes, especially when the number of students in a home surpasses the legal limit.
Parking in North Joaquin is a problem because of the sheer number of students, 8,200 single students, and a lack of parking off the streets. Many of the apartment complexes don't provide the legal number of parking spaces off the streets that is required of them.
In some areas of South Joaquin, homeowners have trouble finding spaces in front of their homes because so many students are packed into houses they've rented that their cars spill throughout the neighborhood.
Council members had decided they wouldn't determine a parking permit plan for North Joaquin until they settled on one for South Joaquin, but then it became clear they couldn't wait.
"Landlords, students and BYU all needed us to say if we were going to do something or not," Richards said. "We had tabled it. When we saw that you could start with an overnight policy and see how that works in terms of fairness, we decided to start the discussion with overnight parking."
The council will discuss the proposal on Jan. 22. If it votes to reconsider, the new proposal would be forwarded to a public hearing and probable vote on Feb. 5.
Under the proposal, each home, apartment or condo occupied by the homeowner would get two free permits. Rental units with a Provo rental dwelling license would be able to purchase a limited number of on-street parking permits. The number would be based on the difference between the legal number of occupants, the rental unit's off-street parking spaces and the overall rental parking shortage in the area.
Permits would be purchased annually and would be transferable. The city would sell seven-day visitor parking permits.
Parking permit programs went into effect in two other areas of the city on Jan. 1. The Foothill Park program prohibits on-street parking without a permit during the day between 5:30 a.m. and 12:30 a.m. in the area between Belmont Place and 1480 East and from 580 North to 30 North. No on-street parking is allowed overnight from 12:30 a.m. to 5:30 a.m.
The University Garden/North Foothill program prohibits only overnight parking from 10 p.m. to 7 a.m. The affected area stretches between 500 North and 930 North and from 900 East to 1250 East.
Property owners in both program areas can get up to two permits for $15 each, Provo spokeswoman Helen Anderson said.
Enforcement for those two programs begins next week. Permits are available to those who qualify. Property owners must submit an application to the city with the permit fee and a Utah County tax notice to prove ownership.
Applications are available at the business license office, 351 W. Center, and online at parking.provo.org.The permits are designed to hang on the rear-view mirror of a vehicle and are transferable. The programs were adopted by the City Council on Oct. 16.
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