Administrators address Provo City housing problems

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    By ROB ROGERS

    John Stohlton has a dream for an area south of BYU campus — He sees pathways, not streets; bikes, not cars; and apartment complexes.

    The dream, a plan named South Campus Master Plan or SCAMP, has been in the works for more than a year. Its creation was prompted by assistant administrative Vice President John Stohlton in response to Provo’s chronic housing problem.

    “I’ve seen the deterioration south of campus and I tried to envision an answer,” Stohlton said.

    Stohlton, who also serves as a Provo planning commissioner, spoke with Mayor Billings about a multi-zoned area south of campus that would house the majority of BYU students. Apartment complexes would have grocery stores, Laundromats in their basements and other essential services for students. Roads might even be taken out and walkways put in, he said.

    The idea is to make it so that students don’t have to have cars, which will reduce traffic and pollution in Provo, Stohlton said.

    The need for action south of campus was spurred by the fact that renters are being forced into traditional family neighborhoods because the city’s high density housing areas are not being used to their full capacity, said Richard Secrist, director of Community Development.

    “A lot of the lands right there are under utilized,” Secrist said.

    The area south of campus has been labeled a high-density housing zone, which means that apartment buildings can be built in the area and residents can rent out their homes to students.

    Provo’s student-housing problem stems from BYU’s growing enrollment and Provo’s shrinking vacancy. Many students and other renters are forced to find housing in family neighborhoods, Stohlton said.

    BYU was brought in on the project to help community developers find ways to resolve housing problems. Off-Campus Housing also supplied information on the university’s growing student body and the number of BYU students living in approved off-campus housing, said Off-Campus Housing official Craig Thomas.

    Secrist’s staff is investigating a way to zone the area south of campus at a much higher density, higher than anywhere else in Provo, and bring in developers to build more apartment complexes, Secrist said.

    However, the major obstacle the SCAMP project faces is its legality, said Off-Campus Housing Director John Pace.

    The city has to approve legislation to bring in developers and open up land owned by home-owners.

    “It’s probably going to be a long-term project, maybe a couple of years,” Secrist said.

    Provo’s growing housing problem and its side-effects were hot topics in this year’s City Council elections. Many candidates proposed closer cooperation between Provo and BYU to help solve the college-town problems.

    But in the end, almost every single candidate indicated the real problem came from Orem. Candidates said students from UVSC who move to Provo for housing increases each year.

    “We can be a one university town, but we can’t be a two university town,” said City Councilman elect Stan Lockhart.

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