Orem parking issues remain after permit program put in place
Residents in the neighborhoods surrounding Utah Valley University have been frustrated for many months over the deluge of students who park in front of their houses while school is in session. And the cars keep coming.
Five months ago, residents in the Sunset Heights neighborhood sent the city a petition with 100 signatures requesting a neighborhood parking permit zone, according to Lt. Mike Paraskeva of the Orem Police Department.
The City Council approved a parking district, but with school now back in session, there are more cars and fewer parking options for students who live in the surrounding apartments.
“We’ll be enforcing that in the next few weeks,” Paraskeva said. The city is giving homeowners time to pick up parking permits and stickers for their cars.
The city has also developed a civilian parking enforcement team that will be the ones issuing the citations.
The developments in the area, mostly student apartments, provide 1.6 parking stalls per apartment. Those apartments house four students each. While it was expected that students would leave their cars at home and use public transportation or walk, that is not always the case.
According to Jason Bench, Orem city planner, students needed to be educated and apartment management companies are not being transparent about the lack of parking and are, in fact, telling those signing contracts that they can park on the street after the contracts are signed.
“It is a hot topic,” Paraskeva said. “Statistics are showing that people are still having cars for their jobs, social life and more. This puts the students in a tough situation.”
The Utah Department of Transportation red-curbed a portion of the west side of Geneva Road in the neighborhood earlier this year. Students were parking and then crossing the busy road, causing danger to themselves and drivers.
The red-curbing took away about 100 parallel parking spots. With the residential permits and the lack of parking spaces provided by developers, it’s now become a critical issue.
“There are 200 to 300 cars a day trying to find a spot,” Bench said. “Management is letting people fend for themselves.”
In that same general area is the Utah Transit Authority intermodal hub where the FrontRunner and buses are coming back and forth. The parking lot is full the majority of the daylight hours, with people parking and riding to Salt Lake City and points in between for work and other activities.
Bench says he is getting daily calls from parents frustrated their student is having to walk several blocks to get home, many times in the dark. One parent complained Friday that his child’s car had been towed twice, costing him $500 each time.
“People are calling the city and blaming us,” Bench said. “Management companies need to tell students you can’t bring a car. They are not being transparent.”
Developers are not too keen on building parking structures due to the high cost. The price of concrete has put one stall, in a terrace, costing between $15,000 and $20,000, according to Bench.
Some of the apartments were charging too much extra for parking privileges and students opted to park on the street.
There are some parcels of land that could be used to build a parking structure that would alleviate much of the parking conundrum, Bench noted.
Right now, the city, UVU, UDOT and other stakeholders have been working together with residents to come up with a solution to help address these concerns.