Students push back on paid parking proposal at Provo town hall
Nov 19, 2021, 9:01 AM
PROVO, Utah — There was high demand for seating space in Provo City Hall Thursday night, as mostly college students pushed back against a proposal for paid parking to solve the problem of high-demand parking spaces on Provo’s streets.
The city says crowded street parking is a decades-old problem. There have been many failed attempts to make changes over the years. And Thursday, when the city council asked for questions and feedback on this latest proposal, the overwhelming answer they got was: no.
“Where do we expect all the cars to go? Because we obviously are all still going to live there,” one woman asked councilmembers.
The proposal would include managing free street parking by adding fees.
Parking is on the agenda at this Town Hall in @provocity. Residents and especially students have filled the room.
— Matt Rascon KSL (@MattRasconKSL) November 19, 2021
“The problem is that we’re taking a public resource owned by the public and we are basically giving it away for free even though there’s excessive demand for it,” said city councilman David Harding, who helped write the proposal.
“There’s a lot of benefits of on-street parking that people aren’t able to enjoy because there’s not enough parking available.”
Harding insisted the plan was in the best interest of students. He argued requiring a minimum payment would reduce frustrations, improve quality of life and stop discouraging redevelopment.
But in a city poll conducted before Thursday’s town hall meeting showed 80% of the nearly 700 respondents said they did not support paid parking as a mitigation tool for crowded on-street parking.
Several students who spoke at the town hall thanked the city council for their efforts and for listening to them. And a few of them voiced support for the proposal but added that they wanted to see other measures put in place to make the city more pedestrian-friendly so not as many people need to use cars.
But the majority in attendance in the crowded council chambers argued the plan would not solve the problem of high-demand parking but make things worse.
“At what point does it turn into, we still have the parking problem but now we’re paying still with the parking problem?” one person asked.
Another woman questioned, “How is this a more effective plan than using lots that already exist and sit empty in Provo?”
Some suggested adding parking lines to the street parking to allow for more spaces.
Many students who live in the Joaquin neighborhood said their housing complexes don’t provide parking space or charge too much and they have no choice but to park in the street.
It’s up to the city council on whether the proposal will go anywhere. Councilmembers were quick to point out that most of them were not involved in creating the proposal and had not made up their minds about it.