Monday, November 26, 2007

Catching up: Paint Your Heart Out, and what it has done for us

Our neighborhood has been actively working to improve itself for years, and one of our primary tools has been Paint Your Heart Out. Most of you are familiar with it, but probably haven't seen the before and after shots.

For those who aren't familiar: Paint Your Heart Out is an annual volunteer project where we gather volunteers (as many as 300) for one hard day of work repainting older homes in our neighborhood that need a quick facelift. It involves a lot of planning, and preparation work by the owners, and has been assisted by the staff and energy of Neighborhood Housing Services of Provo, our local non-profit which works for revitalizing Provo's Pioneer neighborhoods.

In our neighborhood, this process began back in 2000, when we put it to the test. The results have been exciting ever since. We did take one year off to do a "Plant Your Heart Out." Most of the homes we've done have been owner occupied, but a few eyesore rentals have been tackled. Often, home-owners receive the paint at cost, or free depending upon income. We have a couple homes on the itinerary already for summer 2008. We could possibly add more.

Perhaps the most wonderful thing about Paint Your Heart Out is the effect it seems to have on houses that are close to project houses. Within a year, the new paint seems to spread. Call it the "keeping up with the Joneses" phenomena, or a realization that this is a neighborhood worth investing in. Enjoy the photos!

Monday, October 22, 2007

Parking Permit Program, meeting held

A meeting was held last Thursday to discuss the Council Draft version of the Joaquin Neighborhood's parking permit program. The meeting was held primarily for South Joaquin residents, who listened, provided feedback, and voted. The vote was 20 - 13 in favor of the permit program. Concerns were focused on visitor parking, and the implementation of the plan.

There were some points that I feel need further explanation. First of all, the basics of the permits. A permit entitles you to park in a particular subdistrict, and owner occupants can get 2 free, and purchase one other. The permits will be "hanging" meaning they can be transferred from car to car as needed. So, if you have a driveway that holds 2 cars, and you have 3 "cars" of visitors, you can use those permits for your visitors, and still be able to handle everyone. Permits for owner occupants are not car specific. They will be for tenants.

Another issue--businesses must be located without the technical boundaries of the neighborhood in order to be eligible for permits. So, Central Business District businesses won't be eligible. That includes all University Ave located businesses.

Things that I feel we need to change, or improve:

  • I feel the amount of free visitor "one day" spots available to each address needs to be increased. These will be a print-off the web sort of permit. The current plan gives 6 a year per address. That just isn't enough.

  • I will probably recommend that instead of having 3 subdistricts within South Joaquin, there would be just 1 overall district. This would make it easier for folks to visit friends, home /visit teach, etc.

  • I plan to recommend an "appeal" process which could enable residents with special circumstances to request additional permits, or perhaps more "visitor permits."
  • I plan to request a program which would allow local church buildings to request non-enforcement periods on streets immediately surrounding their buildings.

I am still hoping for input from each of you.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Joaquin park news!

I should be trumpeting this in the streets--the Council approved the purchase of the last remaining home/lot needed to finish up our new Park at the corner of 4th east and 4th north. The sales contract has been signed, the Council allocated the funds, and closing will come shortly. The house, which has been owned by the Oveson family, is the last link we needed. Our park will be nearly .90 acres, and the city could, if desired, expand that to the south, though I'm not going to hold my breath. The city will take possession November 15th, which gives the family time to empty out the home of any desired objects, etc. City staff is preparing requests for demolition bids, and that will likely occur this winter.

Definitely great news.

PS Don't forget the neighborhood meeting tonight at 7pm in the Farrer Library.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Historic Tax Credit can help you preserve your historic home

Something that has helped me a great deal in preserving and fixing up my home, which was built in 1919 is Utah's tax credit for historic preservation. In essence, it has helped me wipe out 2 years income taxes. It is worth your exploration, and use.

What is the Utah Historic Preservation Tax Credit? A 20 % nonrefundable tax credit for the rehabilitation of historic buildings which are used as owner-occupied residences or residential rentals. Twenty percent of all qualified rehabilitation costs may be deducted from taxes owed on your Utah income or corporate franchise tax.
Example: $22,000 in qualified rehabilitation cost = $4,400 state income tax credit.
Does My Building Qualify? Buildings listed in the National Register of Historic Places, which, after rehabilitation, are used as a residence(s) qualify. The credit is not available for any property used for commercial purposes including hotels or bed-and-breakfasts. (If the historic B&B is also owner-occupied, this portion of the rehabilitation may qualify.) The building does not need to be listed in the National Register at the beginning of the project, but a complete National Register nomination must be submitted when the project is finished. The property must be listed in the National Register within three years of the approval of the completed project. Staff of the Historic Preservation Office can evaluate the eligibility of your building and provide instructions on nomination requirements. For more information about the National Register see
What Rehabilitation Work Qualifies? The work may include interior and/or exterior repair, rehabilitation orrestoration, including historic, decorative, and structural elements as wellas mechanical systems. All of the proposed, ongoing or completed work must meet the Secretary of the Interior's Standards for Rehabilitation and be approved by the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO). Depending on the historic conditions and the specifics of the proposed rehab work, some examples of eligible work items include:
-repairing/upgrading windows -plumbing repairs and fixtures -refinishing floors, handrails, etc. -repairing or replacing roofs -compatible new kitchens & baths -reversing incompatible remodels-painting walls, trim, etc. -repointing masonry -reconstructing historic porches -new furnace, A/C, boiler, etc. -new floor and wall coverings -electrical upgrades
Necessary architectural, engineering, and permit fees may also be included. The purchase price of the building, site work (landscaping, sidewalks, fences, driveways, etc.), new additions, work on outbuildings, and the purchase and installation of moveable furnishings or equipment (window coverings, refrigerators, etc.) do not qualify for the credit.
All of the work must meet the Secretary of the Interior's Standards for Rehabilitation (Great Illustrated Guide from the NPS) or the tax credit cannot be taken on any portion of the work. A complete application should be submitted to the SHPO as early as possible. The state law requires application and approval by the SHPO prior to completion of the project.
It is strongly recommended that the application be submitted before starting work. Any work begun without prior SHPO approval is done at the owner's own risk. Once work is underway, changes to bring the project into conformance with the Secretary of the Interior's Standards for Rehabilitation can be difficult, expensive or occasionally impossible to make.
(The National Park Service has prepared an online course to help building owners identify the tangible elements or features that give historic buildings their unique visual character. Reading this will help you make design decisions regarding your historic house.)
Photographs showing all areas of work (interior and exterior) prior to the beginning of the rehabilitation and any construction drawings or other technical information necessary to completely understand the proposed project are also required as part of the application.How Much Money Must I Spend to Qualify? Total rehabilitation expenditures must exceed $10,000. (The tax credit applies equally to this first $10,000.) The purchase price of the building and any donated labor cannot be included. The project must be completed within 36 months. (There is no limit to subsequent $10,000+ projects; separate applications are required.) When Can I Claim the Credit? The credit may be taken for the tax year in which the project was completed and the SHPO approves the rehabilitation work (and a National Register nomination, if needed). A unique certification number will be issued to the owner at that time. Credit amounts greater than the amount of tax due in that year may be carried forward up to five years. Are There Any Restrictions Placed on My Building? All work done to the building during the rehabilitation project, and for three years following the certification of the project, must meet the Secretary of the Interior's Standards for Rehabilitation. Please consult with the State Historic Preservation Office if you have any questions. What if I Already Have Approval From my Local Landmarks Commission?The local review process will be helpful to tax credit application process but state law requires application to the State Historic Preservation Office. Local preservation commissions sometimes have different requirements and other considerations than the Secretary of the Interior's Standards for Rehabilitation. To qualify for the state tax credit, all of the work must meet the Standards and receive state approval. Application for the state tax credit must be made before the project is completed, preferably before work even begins (see above).
How do I Claim the Tax Credit? The original completed and signed form TC-40H, Historic Preservation Tax Credit, must be attached to your initial state income tax return. This form will be provided by the SHPO when the completed project is approved. If you carry forward an excess portion of this tax credit, you must attach a copy of the signed, original TC-40H form, with the new carry forward amount, to your subsequent tax return(s). Note that carry forward amounts must be applied against tax due before the application of any historic preservation tax credits earned in the current year and on a first-earned, first-used basis. Please consult with the State Tax Commission if you have any questions. Original records supporting the credit claimed must be maintained for three years following the date the return was filed claiming the credit.For More Information or an Application, Contact:
Nelson Knight at (801) 533-3562State Historic Preservation OfficeUtah Division of State History300 Rio GrandeSalt Lake City, Utah 84101fax: (801) 533-3503

Friday, October 5, 2007

Voting Record as it pertains to our neighborhood

During election seasons, I get asked quite a few questions by various people. One of the recent questions was regarding Steve Turley's voting record on the City Council as it pertains to our neighborhood, specifically. I did some research, and here are the results.

Purchase Rehabilitation projects turn eyesore & problem properties, and drug houses into comfortable homes that families can live in. Steve has voted against the following projects in our neighborhood:
· July 18th, 2006: 631, 637 & 659 East 350 North.
· March 1st, 2005: 746 East 200 North.
· Dec 20th, 2005: 541 East 300 North.
· May 4th, 2004: 386 North 400 East
· Nov 23rd, 2004: 258 East 300 North

Other issues:

July 2004: Voted against strengthening minimum parking requirements for rental dwellings.

October 2004: Abstained from voting on the update of Provo City School Board Districts to reapportion school district boundaries. (This change gave the downtown neighborhoods their own representative on the Provo School Board)

April 20th, 2004: Voted against purchasing 368 North 400 East, and 444 East 400 North for the purchase rehabilitation program or a future park for the Joaquin neighborhood.

April 5th, 2005: Voted against approving the Home Program, the American Dream Down-Payment Initiative, and the Community Development Block Grant Program for the 2005-2006 Fiscal Year. (Funds were included in this for improvements at Memorial Park and Sidewalk repair)

2005: Voted against changing the General Plan Designation on 200 North from Collector road to a neighborhood street.

April 18th, 2006: Voted against enacting temporary zoning regulations to limit lot coverage in one-family residential, and residential conservation zones. (Preventing more people from paving entire back yards for parking)

March 21st, 2006: Voted against a resolution approving the HOME program, the American Dream Down-payment Initiative, and the Community Development Block Grant Program for the 2006-2007 Fiscal Year. (Funds were included in this for purchasing land and developing our new park at 400 East and 400 North and for Sidewalk repair)

March 20, 2007: Abstained from voting on HOME program and American Dream Down-Payment initiative.

March 20, 2007: Voted for using money that had been previously allocated for Joaquin's new park to buy property located at 362-365 N 400 East, despite having voted against the initial allocation in 2006 which provided the park funds.

April 17, 2007: Voted against modifications to the HOME purchase plus, Home Improvement Loans, and down payment assistance programs to modify their terms. (Allowing the available funds to last longer)

*Information provided by Provo City Council Minutes/Records

Sunday, September 23, 2007

"Blight" or "Beautiful"

We all know what "beautiful" is. In terms of a neighborhood, it means well kept lawns, landscaping, beautiful trees and a nicely painted home. It means good sidewalks and streets which aren't covered in litter, and a place where you really want to be. I took a brief bike ride with my son today, and saw a lot of beauty, thankfully.

"Blight" on the other hand, is everything you don't want. Graffiti covered walls, unkept and unwatered lawns, weeds and trash more prevalent than landscaping. It means homes in disrepair. The epitome of this would be an abandoned property with the windows all broken out, and trash covering the ground. Blight spreads, quite insidiously. During the Maeser school renovation, some local "bums" took it upon themselves to break out a few of the old window panes. Soon, there was hardly a sound window left in the building. We don't currently have such an extreme example in our neighborhood, but we have lots of small ones that I'm concerned about.

Those "little" ones are small and large graffiti tags on electrical boxes, and buildings. They are homes and buildings owned by absentee landlords that don't really care about maintaining the building or the grounds. A few years ago, I took Midge Johnson and her husband on a walking tour of the neighborhood to point out the positive and the negative. It didn't take long for her to see the difference between owner occupied structures and absentee owned rentals.

Though things have improved, the struggle is far from over. Sometimes, we just get "used" to blight, and put up with it. This is something we really have to avoid if we are going to improve our neighborhood. Putting up with problem properties isn't a solution.

So, I ask for your help. Please let me know about problem sites, and don't hesitate to use our community resources. If a landlord isn't taking care of a place, look up their contact information on Utah County's website, and call and write them. ( If you can't contact them, let the city do it. Our city has a weed abatement ordinance, and of course, a nuisance ordinance. You can reach Community Development by calling 852-6400. Ask for David Heath, or Reta Trimble. David is assigned to our neighborhood, and Reta is his supervisor.

If you see graffiti of any kid, no matter the size, please call 85-CRIME and report it. Provo City will clean off the graffiti, though perhaps not as fast as we would like. Put them to work.

Working together, we can rid ourselves of a lot of "blight," and create a lot more beauty.

Friday, September 7, 2007

New Memorial Park playground

I'm happy to announce that the new Memorial Park playground is not only complete, but already being actively used by neighborhood residents. The playground is intended for younger kids (5 and under) and provides something that we were missing in the neighborhood. It has slides, swings, and other fun, along with some nice benches for Mom and Dad. The playground is on the West side of 800 East, which divides the park in two. It is near the north end of the park, surrounded on 3 sides by large pine trees.

I was thrilled yesterday to see it already filled with children and their parents as I walked by at 8pm. It only took 5 plus years to see it from idea to reality. Thus are the workings of a city government.

Please enjoy and treasure this resource.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

City Wide Election Race--your choices

The election season has begun, and we have two serious contenders this year. (One BYU student who has no chance). Those two men are Steve Turley and Coy Porter.
Steve Turley has been on the City Council for 3 1/2 years now. He is often the odd-man out, and is responsible for more 6-1 votes than any other member of the council. Most of the council's work is on zoning and developments. He is very consistent in voting for the cause of developers, realtors and a "landlord friendly" view of property rights. He is not the neighborhood-friendly candidate. He has been at odds with the Mayor multiple times, and has been an "expensive" member of our Council. You might ask what I'm talking about...
Remember the dispatch incident where a young man called 911 and they couldn't find him, since he called on a cell phone. Turley anxiously politicized that event, and did a great job of making sure our cities failures were well publicized to the media. For good or for bad, he did a great job of making sure the lawyers for the young man's family had all the ammunition they needed to push for an expensive settlement. Simply put, he cost us money, and I'm not talking about the meager salary received by Council Members.
He does have one thing I have to respect him for, which is voting against I-Provo. Under our current business model, where the state restricts our city to being a wholesaler, I-Provo is going to be a perpetual problem. I'm not sure we had a realistic business model in the first place. Turley does tend to be a friend of our park system, and has pushed in his own way for a new Rec Center. He did lead the budget committee in their updating of City Impact fees for new development, which included, for the first time a park impact fee to expand Provo's park system. Perhaps for the Joaquin Neighborhood, his most concerning votes have been the many votes he cast against funding NHS purchase rehab projects. He also voted against our wishes to change the "title" of 200 North to a residential street-vs its current, more intensive label.

His opponent this year is Coy Porter, our former Fire Chief. Coy has lived in Provo for 45 years, and is no stranger to our city, and its government. His father was actually a member of the City Council years ago. Coy is definitely Turley's opposite in terms of his support for neighborhoods, and revitalization. He wasn't on the council when i-Provo so I can't give you a comparison there. He does have a solid record of being able to work as a team player within the City, and will likely be more effective in leading instead of just opposing. His previous position has given him experience at the budget process, and management. His platform includes support for NHS and the city's programs encouraging owner occupancy. He lives in the Franklin Neighborhood, one of our fellow Pioneer neighborhoods.

I encourage you to ask them questions, learn more and really evaluate these two men. Find out which one really matches your views about the future of our city. I have given you my very condensed description of the race--now you need to make a decision. The primary, which is on September 11th, will eliminate one of the three people who has filed.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Polling location for Joaquin Residents

Since we very much want you to get out and vote this fall, I think this information will help.

The polling location for Precinct PRO4 and PRO6 will be in the Historic Courthouse Rotunda on Sept 11, 07 for the Primary election.
51 South University Ave. Parking will be an issue for most voters. Center and University Ave will be the best or over at the Health and Justice Building parking garage. The county elections office is also looking for poll workers for the next year. There will be three elections happening next year one in Feb. June, and Nov. The pay is a nice benefit for community service.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Parking Permit Program status report

(Common streetscape in Joaquin: Cars.....)
As all of you know, parking is one of our neighborhood's curses. We have too many cars, and not enough parking spaces for all of them. This is especially true in North Joaquin. Nearly 1 year ago, we submitted a parking permit plan to the City. The Mayor at that point instructed Community Development to begin work. Brent Wilde, one of the City's Senior Planners, began working on the issue. He has done a great deal of work, and frankly, I'm grateful. He has put together a report on the issue for the Mayor and the City Council, and that report contains his proposals for helping us with the problem. The City Council will begin working on the issue this fall. We expect the ordinance will be passed relatively soon, and will go into effect in January. That date may change, but that's my best guess at this point.
This week (Aug 27th to 31st) is our last week of relatively low volumes of cars in the neighborhood. Next week they'll come back in force once BYU resumes classes. The difference in both traffic and cars on the streets is unfortunately very noticeable. We suffer from a few core problems which I'd like to review:
  • Commuter traffic. We have a lot of folks who live further out who enjoy using our neighborhood as their parking lot each day while up at BYU. BYU has now changed its policies to offer free parking to students in most of its lots. Frankly, they have all the parking they need, it just isn't where students want it to be. It is over in the Marriott Center parking lot, and at the Stadium. It takes a good 15 minutes to walk from that end of campus to the south end, where most of the classrooms are. Shuttles aren't provided, so many find it easier to park in our neighborhood and walk up the hill. 800 North in particular is used for this.
  • Students parking on the street instead of in stalls provided by their apartment complexes/houses. Provo City Code has required landlords to provide offstreet parking for all cars operated from that residence since the 1950's. We all know that hasn't really happened. But, many complexes have adequate parking, and it sits half empty while the streets overflow with cars.
  • Maintaining an appropriate balance of parking to keep Joaquin a positive place for owner occupants to live.

The proposal has too many points to be covered quickly, and needs your attention. We will be having neighborhood meetings to cover it. It divides the neighborhood into 2 basic sections, mostly along 500 and 560 North. The "plan" for North and South Joaquin are quite different in many respects. South Joaquin's plan will likely offer all owner occupants at least one free on street permit, and allow homeowner's to purchase one more. All homeowners will be given first priority, and at least a 2 week period of time to obtain/purchase their permits. After that, tenants that live in apartments and houses with a Rental Dwelling License will be able to obtain permits. Brent has calculated exactly how many parking space there are in South Joaquin, and no more than that number will be sold. So, if we've got 2000 parking spots, no more than 2000 permits will be sold. Arrangements for visitor parking, Farrer elementary, local businesses, and churches are all part of the plan.

I encourage each of you to take a look at the plan and "study up." I can provide it to you as a pdf file. Your opinions will be needed.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Joaquin's new park

(Picture of land that will be our park)
In 2005, when Joaquin elementary was closed, our neighborhood lost a significant resource. Our greenspace became a demolition zone, and since then has been sold and rezoned for a large new apartment complex. With a population of nearly 15,000 residents, we were very underserved by our city in terms of park space. After the 2005 City elections, George Stewart and Cindy Richards led a push to provide funds for the creation of a new park. By this point, the city already owned the 2 homes on the SE corner of 400 East and 400 North. This land became designated as that spot. The city has since purchased another home on 400 East, and is working to buy a 4th.
This spring, part of that land was cleared, with 2 large Sycamore trees being preserved. The Parks and Rec department started putting in sprinkler system, replaced sidewalks, and we hope to see this land covered in sod this fall. Further development will wait until the last home is bought. Negotiations are currently under way.
We hope to see a wonderful neighborhood resource in the future. A playground, and hopefully, a small ball field will be available, along with a pavillion.

Welcome to the Joaquin Journal

(Knight-Mangum Home on Center Street)
Welcome to the Joaquin Neighborhood Journal! Its our latest tool to help neighbors keep track of what's happening, issues they should be concerned about, and the positive things that are happening in our neighborhood. My name is Kurt Peterson, one of the two co-chairs of the Joaquin Neighborhood.

Our neighborhood is one of Provo's Pioneer Neighborhoods. It comprises half of the Provo Historic District, and sits just NE of our city's downtown. Our boundaries run from Center Street on the South to 800 North on the North, University Avenue is our Western edge, and 900 East is our Eastern edge. Nearly 15,000 people live in our 72 block neighborhood, which is located just South of Brigham Young University. The area we call North Joaquin is mostly populated by BYU students living in different apartment complexes and older homes. South of 500 North is "South" Joaquin, which has a mix of historic homes as well as apartments. Nearly 90% of all owner occupied homes in the neighborhood are in South Joaquin.

Our neighborhood elementary school is Farrer, which serves both our neighborhood and Maeser, which is just South of Center Street. It's boundaries also extend to 200 West in the Commercial Business District, and a piece of the Foothills neighborhood (to the East). The school, built in the 1930's as a WPA project, as been updated and changed many times. The land to the north and south of the School serves as a recreation zone for the neighborhood. 3 playgrounds, two outdoor pavillions, tennis courts, and a basketball area are located on them. It served as one of Provo's Middle Schools until 2005. The middle school which serves our area is Centennial, and our High School is Timpview. Both of these schools are in NE Provo.

Our neighborhood has 2 parks, though one is being developed as I write this. Memorial Park is located in the SE corner of our neighborhood, straddling both sides of 800 East. It is an old park, with large mature trees, and nice walking paths. Many of the evergreen trees planted in the park were put in after WWI, and were planted as a memorial to the soldiers from Provo who gave their lives in that war. A new playground is being put together in this park, tucked between several of these trees. The playground is meant to serve Toddlers and younger children. The other park, known to us currently as Joaquin Park, is being built at the SE corner of the intersection of 400 North, and 400 East. The city has purchased 3 homes for it, and is trying to buy the 4th. The first two that were bought have been torn down, and the land has been cleared and graded. Completion date is unknown at this point.

Provo City has a City Council in which there are 5 districts, and 2 City-wide seats. The district which covers Provo's Pioneer Neighborhoods is represented by Cindy Richards. George Stewart, a former Mayor, and Steve Turley are the City-Wide representatives. Our representative on the Provo School Board is Mary Ann Christiansen, one of our own! Put them to work for you!

If you have ideas, or concerns that you want addressed on this blog, you can email me at I encourage you to let me know about important events and issues that you would like on here. I look forward to your participation.