01 February 2008

Provo City Council vs. BYU Students - The Parking Kerfuffle

Lots of news and events this week for our BYU readership.

Our friends organizing the "resistance" to the Provo City Council's ignorant parking program sent us the following email. Read it and attend the upcoming meeting to register your distaste for their new plan.
Most of the city council is now ready to vote to implement the new parking program south of campus (University Ave to 900 E and Campus to Center St). It is important that as many people come as can to voice their opinions. Please read the information found at http://parking.provo.org so you have an idea what is going on.

There are required to hold a public hearing and to allow the community to speak. Please come and speak. Please come prepared. I will have voter registration books on hand for those ready to register to vote in Provo. YOUR VOTE MATTERS.

If they pass this law, I will get a referendum set up for people to sign to put it on the ballot in November. Only locally registered voters signatures are counted. Provo City is pushing us around and trying to run out the little guys. Help us stop them. My landlord is already selling his house because of all the legislation the council has passed that is asinine. They don't want families to stay they want developers. They want to regulate student life so that we don't interfere with their lives.

Please come and support those that will speak out even if you don't want to say anything.
Provo City Council has consistently acted without regard to the student population. We understand why they do it--students aren't registered as voters in Provo so they have nothing to fear when they cross them.

But this parking proposal--regulating parking in areas dominated by students--goes way beyond anything they have done before. The areas they propose to regulate have more students than permanent residents by more than 10-1. They propose to punish, really, a huge student population--several thousand--for the benefit of a few hundred residents.

This follows their recent theme of limiting the student population in the name of protecting permanent resident property rights. This blog consistently argues in favor of protecting property rights. Provo City Council's proposals are not that--they are not simply protecting property rights. They are abusive and dictatorial and violate the property rights of non-resident owners who want to rent their properties to students.

The result? Housing/rent costs for students and other non-permanent residents far above what they should be. The Provo City Council is doing what Thomas Sowell has criticized Bay Area residents for doing for years--making property decisions that punish new and poor residents by causing property prices to rise. These people wont buy the property themselves, so they pass legislation to limit the property rights of those who do want to buy it.

From "Property Rites" by Thomas Sowell:
Many restrictive land use laws in effect turn a chance that someone paid for into a guarantee that they did not pay for, such as a guarantee that a given community would retain its existing character.

In the normal course of events, things change. Land that is not nearly as valuable as farmland as it would be for housing would be sold to people who would build housing. But restrictive laws prevent this from happening.

Such laws help preserve the existing character of the community, at the expense of farmers and others who would gladly sell their land to builders if they had a chance to do so. Because they can't, their value of their land is reduced drastically.

The biggest losers are those families who are deprived of housing and those families who are deprived of the standard of living they could have if they did not have to pay for sky-high rents or home prices due to an artificial scarcity of housing.

The biggest winners are existing homeowners, who see the value of their property go up by leaps and bounds. Also benefitting are environmentalist groups who are able to buy up farmland at a fraction of its value because there are so few alternatives for the farmers.
When long-time Provo residents purchased their property, they didn't purchase a guarantee that any future building would be limited to certain area or certain types of residents (read: not students). They only purchased the right to their own property. Their continued insistence to limit the rights of anyone who came after them through the legislative authority of the Provo City Council is abusive and ignorant of property rights.

Provo City residents have a pretty sweet deal with students. They receive sales tax and rent tax far above what they would otherwise plus all the tax benefits of BYU itself to say nothing of the jobs provided by the presence of BYU or the students. Unlike many other college towns, they don't have to deal with the usual negative aspects of having a large student population--rowdy drinking and riots. Instead, BYU students provide a cheap, educated workforce and literally hundreds of thousands of hours of community service.

In return, Provo residents through the Provo City Council reward BYU students with greater and greater restrictions on how and where they can live (BYU hasn't helped out much there) and how and where they can park. And their reach extends even to areas overwhelmingly dominated by students. We cannot come up with enough adjectives to describe our outrage and many of the ones we'd like to use are not appropriate for this family-friendly blog.

One last appeal: go to the Provo City Council meeting and register your disgust with the council members. Do not be apathetic or lazy and leave the fight to others. Take the fight to them yourself.

Time and Place

Date: Tuesday, 5 February 2008
Time: 7-9:00pm
Location: City Office Building
Street: 351 W Center St.
City: Provo, UT

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1 comment:

Cade said...

Hey Jake,

This is Cade. How are you? I saw your interview and blog on KBYU and I am deeply impressed. I am in Idaho so I don't really get updates on this. How is it coming? I commend you for your efforts with the Provo Gestapo and I hope students wake up and take action like you mentioned. How silly has it gotten that students can't live near campus and have to park a mile just to get there. Tell me what you think of this...but at times I wish they would stop putting up buildings and actually creating more parking structures. Even though I am gone now I still think it was silly with all of the financial backing that parking and housing has become such a drawback at a great University and community.