Thursday, November 5, 2009

Pictures from Paint Your Heart Out 2009

I'm sorry these are a little late. I should have done it in June, but life and campaign season sort of have a way of getting in the way. This year we focused on 2 homes on 100 North which sit next to each other. One is a big, gorgeous Victorian, the other a large gable-end Craftsman Bungalow. Both are right at 100 years old. One owner occupied, one not. Both are well taken care of and loved.

NeighborWorks Provo (formerly NHS of Provo) provided the paint, organizing skills, and the scaffolding. A good number of volunteers, mostly from our neighborhood showed up to help. Our Mayor elect even came to help, which was wonderful.

Rome wasn't built in a day, and despite all the help, we didn't quite have these two done in one day. We held a small ward service project the following night to do our best to wrap up more of the work. Enjoy the shots!
Special thanks to Sharlene Wilde, Executive Director of NeighborWorks Provo for her work on this.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Neighborhood Dreams do come true...

Perhaps I should title this entry "the joy of having our new park."

This past week, the dedication/ribbon cutting was held for our new park at the corner of 400 East and 400 North. Joaquin Park became an official reality, open for recreation! Since then, pretty much every time I drive by, I see people there enjoying it. It is everything we envisioned, and perhaps more. Generations of Joaquin residents of all kinds will enjoy it.

It all started with a dream--we wanted another park to serve the approximately 15,000 people who live in this neighborhood. We knew we were losing Joaquin elementary, and needed green space badly. This neighborhood has the highest density in the state, and needs green space wherever it can be found.

Inspiration strikes all of us at times, and even I am no exception. I was out walking around our neighborhood one morning, and noticed three really dilapidated houses on that corner were all empty. They looked tough, and needed love. But, despite my love for old houses, I thought that this would be a great place for a park.

Dave Anderson, my friend and neighbor, (who is a City Planner for Spanish Fork) drew up a plan for a park at this site. I started trying to "sell" it to Provo City Council members. Some nearly scoffed, others listened. The push continued, and thanks to some great help from Cindy Richards and George Stewart, our park began to take form.

It took years, yes years to acquire all the property. Four houses in all. My thanks to Paul Glauser and Julie Beck from the Provo City redevelopment agency for their help on this task. Then the Parks and Recreation department took over, and gathered a committee of neighbors to create a general plan. Frankly, they did an excellent job!

Generations of children, parents, and yes, young folks from BYU on dates and family home evenings will spend time in that beautiful little park. It's trees will grow, and the years will pass, but the dream has become a reality.

Don't ever doubt that what you work for and believe in can become a reality.

So now my friends, what do you dream of for the Joaquin Neighborhood?

I dream of a neighborhood where these wonderful old historic homes are lovingly cherished by owner occupants who care about them.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Vote today & A message regarding Property Rights

Date: Tuesday, September 15, 2009, 7:57 AM

Friends & Neighbors,

I got this message in my email today from a friend of mine who was a neighborhood chair in another pioneer neighborhood. I thought it was worth your time to take a look at. Don't forget to vote in today's municipal primary.

The most important issues in this election (remember to vote today) are about property rights. The confusion about this issue derives from your personal definition of property rights.

During the course of my term as neighborhood chair and providing architectural services for developers I have heard numerous complaints about the way that Provo City is infringing on their rights to develop their property as they see fit. I hear the same complaints from real estate investors wanting to buy up houses in our neighborhoods and convert them to rentals. What they don't say is what the infringements are.

The developer and real estate investor are in business to make money. Anything that prohibits them from doing so is an infringement on their property rights. When Provo City requires a developer to have a meeting with the neighbors to discuss their project and to gather feedback from the neighborhood, that is infringement, right? When Provo City requires a landlord to verify that their rental property complies with HUD (Department of Housing and Urban Development) standards, that is infringement, right? I hope that you can see that the very things that Provo City is asking of developers and landlords is to make sure that they do unto others as they would have done unto them (I would put quotes around that but I am sure that I butchered it). I think that it is sad that the greedy pursuit of money causes some people to ignore the well being of others.

I am a landlord because I rent my basement out. I had to have a home inspection by the City and had to spend over 500 dollars on repairs to bring it up to HUD standards. The repairs consisted of things to make it easier for my tenants to get out of the basement in the event of a fire and to prevent them from electrocuting themselves. It is not about me but the well being of others. Have my rights been infringed upon? No, property ownership is a right and a burden to provide the occupants with a safe and healthy environment to live in. Do unto others...

Friday, May 29, 2009

Paint Your Heart Out 2009--coming right up!

Friends and Neighbors:

WE NEED YOU! On Saturday, June 6th we will be holding our annual Paint Your Heart Out in the Joaquin Neighborhood. It will start with sign in at 8am at Farrer Elementary (south side--pavillion) where you can grab some donuts and juice. Then we'll be off to our worksites. We have 2 homes that need to get a facelift. They are big, and historic, and when we are all done, they will be beautiful.

Please bring your friends, family, etc. Youth groups are welcome.

Kurt Peterson

Joaquin Neighborhood Chair

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Accessory Apartments 101

Provo's central neighborhoods have a special piece of zoning called an "A" overlay which allows homeowners (who reside in their house) to rent out a portion of the home as an accessory apartment. Of course, there are rules, and I'd like to make sure that you know what some of these are.

The first of these is that having an accessory apartment requires the owner to fill out an application for a building permit with Provo's Community Development department. Your house may have had a basement apartment for 30 years, but if your house isn't a legal duplex, you need this permit if you want an accessory apartment. Thinking it is legal doesn't make it legal, and as far as the city is concerned, ignorance of the law isn't much of an excuse.

If your house has an existing apartment, the city will come out and do an inspection to see if your property meets a few important health and safety requirements. If it doesn't, they will give you a list of corrections that have to be taken care of to have your application approved. Some common corrections: (please note this is not a complete list)

  • Putting in Smoke detectors

  • Having GFCI outlets in the bathroom and kitchen

  • Having properly sized and positioned "egress" windows in all bedrooms.

  • Having 4 paved parking stalls

  • Having an "interior connection" between the apartment and the rest of the home

Part of the application is providing the city with a site plan of your property showing where new parking will go. You also have to have a floor plan for each floor of the house. The building permit application costs $50, and the permit lasts 6 months. It can be extended for another six months. Once you've finished all the corrections, another inspection has to take place to demonstrate that you've completed the required work.

Some issues are pretty much impossible to solve. One of those is Lot coverage. Under current zoning, only 25% of your back yard can be paved. So, if you are already at the limit, you won't be able to add more parking spaces. Another serious problem is ceiling height. 6 foot ceilings aren't going to fly.

There are some big differences between legal duplexes and accessory apartments. Legal duplexes have to have separate heating systems/controls. They usually have separate utility meters for Gas and electricity. They have to have "fire-walls" between the units. There aren't connections between the units. Houses with accessory apartments don't usually have separate heating systems/controls, and they usually don't have separate utility meters. They don't have to have "fire-walls."

If you own a legal duplex and rent out one of the units, you now must have a Rental Dwelling License. Homes with accessory apartments do not have to have a license, but they must be owner occupied.

In a few cases, I've seen neighborhood residents put an addition on their home in order to add an accessory apartment. While legal, this is a completely different matter, and the rules more complicated. Current building codes have to be met, and the applicant has to pay impact fees as a part of the building permit application.

There are pro's and con's to a neighborhood having accessory apartments, which we'll have to tackle another day. In the meanwhile, I encourage all of you that have a basement apartment to get things taken care of. Get a determination to find out if it is a Legal Duplex or an Accessory, and find out what needs to get fixed. Get the appropriate permit and/or Rental Dwelling License, and then quit worrying.