Over the past three months, neighbors east of UVU anxious about traffic and Lakeridge students have joined forces with neighbors north of campus anxious about UVU growth to form a coalition mediated by Southwest Orem Neighborhood Association that opposed the PEG/Woodbury housing project, Palos Verdes LLC.
These two groups share a common vision: hope for stabilization of the older neighborhoods in southwest Orem. These neighborhoods, particularly east and north of campus, are ripe for decay. It costs money to maintain and renovate homes. Students from UVU are hungry for rental opportunities, legal or not. Homeowners, discouraged by a pessimistic view of the future, are prone to move out and rent out their homes, sell their homes to investors with an appetite for property near UVU to rent out to students or sell their homes to developers who can make good money on high-density housing.
SWONA advisors communicated extensively with the mayor and city council, trying to convince them that the Palos Verdes student-housing project will actually accelerate the risk of community decay by discouraging homeowners. But the city did not see the connection and voted to approve the project. The question, now, becomes: "Is there anything that can be done to stabilize southwest Orem before it's too late?"3 comments on this story
The vision that frightens us is Joaquin neighborhood to the south of BYU, which is now nearly completely dedicated to apartments for BYU students. Is that what we are headed for in southwest Orem? Hopefully, more and better communication and coordination will develop as growth pressures inevitably continue. Time will tell whether southwest Orem can be stabilized and energized to renew and not collapse in decay, ultimately to have miles of single-family homes replaced by three- and four-story apartment buildings for the UVU students.
David Busath, chair of SWONA