Young single professionals express concern over proposed zoning law

Provo City Council members discuss the concerns of young single professionals at a town hall meeting on Oct. 24. Many singles are concerned about the proposed zoning enforcement law that would make the punishment harsher for young singles living in family-zoned areas. (Savannah Hopkinson)

Mary Ebert moved to southeast Provo to live closer to her job and to be with other young single professionals closer to her age. Ebert wanted to live in an area with mixed demographics, but she didn’t realize many of the families in southeast Provo are not very welcoming to the influx of singles in the area.

Provo City Council members Dave Harding, Gary Winterton and Dave Sewell held a town hall meeting on Oct. 24 to address concerns of young single professionals in Provo about the proposed zoning enforcement law that would make punishments harsher for singles living in family-zoned areas.

The proposed zoning ordinance would make it easier for the city to enforce zoning laws by making the punishment a misdemeanor instead of a fine. This is meant to discourage landlords from renting homes in family-zoned areas to multiple singles to get more money from the rent.

The city council addressed concerns about the professionals feeling discriminated against, and discussed future solutions for housing for young single professionals in the Provo area.

Many young single professionals do not know they are breaking zoning laws. At the town hall meeting, concerns about being considered a criminal for zoning violations were brought up.

“I don’t think the idea is to create criminals. The idea is to help people understand what the law is and help them to come into compliance,” Winterton said.

Provo City Council member Gary Winterton discusses the proposed zoning enforcement law at a town hall meeting on Oct. 24. They discussed the concerns of the young single professionals. (Savannah Hopkinson)

Another part of the proposed ordinance is landlords and renters will need a signed document stating they are aware of who is living there, and what the zoning law is. This is to help everyone be educated about the law, but young single professionals at the meeting were concerned it will restrict their rights to sublet apartments.

The current zoning law for most of the family-zoned areas in Provo is only three unrelated people can live in one home. In areas of Provo, particularly the southeast area, the influx of singles in the area have filled in homes which are zoned to be family houses.

As this law is enforced, it will have a large impact on the young single professionals living in Provo because many of the places they are living are in family-zoned areas.

Ebert currently lives in a town home with her brother. Although this is not against the zoning law, Ebert wants to have options in the future as she rents or sublets apartments which the zoning ordinance could take away. Ebert, like multiple young single professionals who attended the meeting, said she likes living among families and doesn’t necessarily want to be in an area zoned solely for singles.

The purpose of this meeting, according to Sewell, was to engage and work together with the young professionals in Provo.

The singles discussed why this proposed ordinance and the zoning laws are making them feel discriminated against. According to many of the young single professionals in the room, they said they feel as if their neighbors are not accepting them, and they want to be equally protected by the laws.

The city council members looked at the proposed ordinance with those in attendance and discussed the wording and sections with which people had concerns.

Sewell told the young single professionals he would love to talk to them about their concerns individually, and if they come up with proposed solutions to their concerns, those ideas will be discussed.

City council member Dave Harding talks to young professionals at a town hall meeting about the language in the proposed zoning enforcement ordinance. Some singles are concerned that this proposed ordinance is discriminatory. (Savannah Hopkinson)

The city council members asked for input about what sort of housing they should build for current undergrads who will soon enter the workforce and be looking for housing.

The city council said they want to know where single graduates will want to live and have options for housing to help young single professionals have a place they want to stay in Provo. The city has rezoned an area to build housing for young single professionals.

“We’d like to get more of you involved in that discussion,” Sewell said.

He invited those at the meeting to let the city council know what living areas the young single professionals think others in their demographic will want.

Harding also asked for help solving the problem. A large part of the issue stems from a lack of housing, he said, and this is a long-term problem they are working to figure out.

The Provo City Council will be voting on the proposed zoning enforcement law on Nov. 14 during the city council meeting at 6 p.m. at the Provo City Center building.

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