Readers’ Forum: Perusing Provo’s parking puzzle

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Provo has long been infamous for its horrific parking situation. On far too many nights, BYU students living in Provo’s apartment complexes find themselves in an impossible quandary: arriving in their car back home at their complex, only to find that there are absolutely zero open parking spots, even on nearby streets. Students are on most days forced to either circle the area for potentially ridiculous periods of time waiting for a spot to open up, or risk parking in a restricted area (or worse, being towed and required to pay an additional nearly half a grand simply to get their car back). Besides blatantly overselling their parking passes, complexes profit off of this dilemma even further by charging exorbitant rates for guaranteed parking spots.

As a result of these dilemmas, students are forced to pay hundreds or even thousands of dollars each year to apartment complexes, BYU, the Provo Police Department, and various towing companies. It’s a vicious system of preying on young adults who already have little funds to spare. While immediate solutions are admittedly not simple, something has to change.

The obvious fix is to adapt architecture and city planning to allow for more parking spots – for example, a popular proposition is the construction of parking garages in Provo – but this is admittedly unlikely to happen anytime soon. Although legislation requiring a greater ratio of parking spots to residents for each complex would be an excellent start (and long overdue), this would not take effect until significant urban remodeling.

One idea is for complexes to allow students to park in certain sections of church building lots as overflow parking, as across Provo thousands or more of these parking spots sit unused while students desperately scour for a nook that’s twice as far away from their apartment to shimmy their car into. The Multi-Stake Building located but a few thousand feet from King Henry Apartments where I live, with its wide array of always-empty spots, is a prime example of this. While allowing students to park in the entire lot overnight is not viable for the church property, apartment complexes negotiating to allow their parking permit holders to park in a designated section as overflow parking seems far more realistic and could be a life-saver to many students.

Outside of Provo’s apartment complexes, on-campus parking remains a mystifying struggle. Aside from filling up at the crack of dawn, Y-Lots are not exactly ubiquitous – this past Fall semester I worked many morning shifts for BYU’s Grounds Team, and because there is no on-site parking permitted for BYU students at the Grounds facility, I had to consistently wake up 20 minutes earlier than I otherwise would have needed to in order to account for the nearly mile-long walk from the closest Y-Lot. Overall it’s difficult to argue that there are enough Y-Lot parking spaces in proportion to BYU’s enrollment of around 35,000.

While I can admit that there isn’t one easy solution staring the city in the face, something has to be done about parking in Provo. Too many cash-starved students are paying too much money to too many entities, and entire days and schedules are being disrupted routinely by apartment complexes’ shortages of parking spaces that they oversold passes for. Two potential courses of action to mitigate this problem present themselves: local complexes partnering with church buildings to allow portions of their always-empty lots to be allocated as overflow parking, and passing legislation requiring apartment complexes to provide more parking spots per contracted resident.

Jansen Nye

Springfield, Virginia

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