As I’ve noted in the past, some people in Provo are fond of advocating gentrification for downtown neighborhoods. I think what people mean in expressing that sentiment is that — in addition to rising property values — they want more long term residents and fewer transient neighbors.
And as it so happens, there’s one easy way to encourage that shift: eliminate parking minimums.
Matthew Yglesias argued something similar recently in Slate. Discussing the D.C. area, Yglesias points out that parking minimums hurt housing affordability. Regarding the consequences of less on-site parking, he continues,
It’s true that other people who live nearby may be saddened by decreased street parking availability, but that needs to be weighed against the citywide interests that exist in communities all across America in more jobs, more housing availability, and a broader tax base.
Yglesias’ argument also includes a public transit component, though most downtown Provo neighborhoods also have easy access to the UTA bus system.
In any case, the message is clear: requiring parking drives up the cost of housing. Extrapolating, then, that means people looking for more affordable places to live have incentives to look farther away. In Utah Valley, that means going out to Lehi, Saratoga Springs or Eagle Mountain.
By contrast, one way to make home prices more competitive in Provo with other parts of the county is to simply stop requiring parking. Lower home prices should then translate into more home buyers.