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Guest: Why is the Provo City Council proposing a tax on students?

By Dillon Kunz - Special to the Daily Herald | Nov 27, 2021

Courtesy photo

Dillon Kunz

The Provo City Council will soon vote to propose a parking fee for parking in the Joaquin area — except each household would be given a permit for at least one parking space. The given reason for this is that it would improve parking situations for the neighborhood, and it would for some. However, this neighborhood is mostly made up of students, most of whom live in apartment complexes, who would not benefit from this and would have an even greater burden placed on them.

There would be no parking issue in the first place if each apartment complex provided enough parking, but sadly in many situations, this is simply not the case. Some councilmembers assert that there are many cars left parked along the street for months at a time and that a fee would eliminate this occurrence. However, no data has been provided to back this claim and someone who is likely irresponsible enough to forget they’ve left a car somewhere for months is irresponsible enough not to care about parking fees adding up.

Now if the proposed “parking solution” were really about parking, why do we not give each long-term resident a parking permit for their spot on the street and be done with it? Certainly, this too would be a major headache for students since many parking spaces would be totally eliminated for them, but not as detrimental as paying hundreds of dollars over the span of a few months if you have to park on the street each night.

But that’s not what the city council proposes. One councilmember included as a reason for this in a presentation given at a meeting: “the discouragement of cars.” This seems to be closer to the actual motivation for the “parking solution,” since there are groups in Provo who advocate for the elimination of cars in the city and a fee would certainly make being a student and owning a car a massive burden.

Perhaps you could even eliminate cars for every member of the city if there were sufficient public transportation, but there is not sufficient public transportation to get where you need to in Utah Valley in relative speed. Plus, neither our country nor our state are designed not to have cars on the road.

It is not practical to suggest every citizen of Utah County sell their cars in order to live here — and yet that is what is being proposed for students, or so it seems. I doubt a fee would actually work; most likely, students would accept the burden as another to go along with the rising prices of education and housing.

This being a parking proposal solely for the Joaquin neighborhood is evidence this targets students, the majority of residents of this neighborhood, who would not benefit at all from the proposal. The proposal seems to view students as nuisance, despite the massive revenue the city receives through sales taxes from students and the local businesses kept afloat by students.

Students need a place to put their cars once they get here, just like everybody else. As far as I can tell, there is no discussion among councilmembers about removing cars for long-term residents, nor their own. So why is it justified to discourage students from bringing a vehicle they own into the city? It’s not.

So what exactly is the proposal? The proposal is, for all intents and purposes, a parking tax on students living in the Joaquin neighborhood.

I expect the city council will find ways to create more parking in the Joaquin area, not less. I expect reasonable citizens to understand my rebuttal to the ridiculous proposal and hope that many will reach out to the city council in students’ defense. Thank you for your time.

Dillon Kunz is a graduating senior at Brigham Young University.

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