Thursday, June 23, 2011

Provo--"green" or paved? That is really just one of the questions...

Over 5 years ago, our neighborhood led a drive to have our city council make a crucial change. Previously, property owners all over the city were able to pave up to 50% of a backyard for parking. Our own neighborhood, especially in South Joaquin, had been extremely susceptible to this. We have a lot of old homes that had been turned into duplexes, or even triplexes, and in order to get BYU approval, landlords had to have adequate off street parking. So--they paved a lot of back yards. There are several problems with this circumstance.

1. It creates much more of an urban hot zone. Temperatures run as much as 20 degrees higher over pavement than they do over green space.

2. Once paved, these yards almost never go back. They have no appeal to families searching for a home to purchase, since removing the pavement would be an enormous additional expense. As a result, the properties become a perpetual rental.

3. Once paved, these rental properties have more value, sell for more, and are very difficult to remove--when you actually want to remove them, such as in North Joaquin, where we want high density student housing built to replace old worn out homes.

4. We have a need in our neighborhood for more long term residents, more home owners, not for more rental property.

5. The city never required fencing, or adequate landscaping, which meant that these parking lots are eye sores to the neighbors, affecting in a negative way the property values of people living next door, or nearby.

Fortunately, we had a city council at the time that cared about the revitalization of our historic neighborhood, and agreed that this was a good choice for our future. As a result, the amount of land which was allowed to be paved was reduced to 25%.

I can't understate the role that we as a neighborhood played in this. Our efforts benefitted the entire city. Unfortunately, things have now moved the other direction. A different city council and administration have now pushed the percentage allowed in pavement for parking to be increased to 40% of all backyard space. In addition, they eliminated landscaping requirements, and they increased the amount of a front yard which could be paved. All of Provo's neighborhoods are going to be affected by this. It many not be fast (though i've already seen a back yard get new pavement on my street), but it will have an impact.

This legislation came at the request of one landlord. Yes--just one. He made the application, and the council agreed, with some modification. Get ready for more pavement. This goes against your votes in previous neighborhood meetings.

So, my friends, our efforts begin again. A petition has been prepared online for you to lend your voices towards if you support it. Click the link below.

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