One Simple Step to Getting More Owner-Occupants

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.

Requiring developers and landowners to include parking makes projects and housing more expensive, pricing out young families, people on fixed incomes and others. As a result, those people go find housing in far-flung areas while absentee landlords buy up all the local housing stock.

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3 Comments

Filed under Development, neighborhood, parking

3 responses to “One Simple Step to Getting More Owner-Occupants

  1. If lowering parking standards would allow more people to have accessory apartments, thereby allowing more people to supplement their incomes and own homes, then this is something I would support.

    But I think what drives up the cost of housing the most (particularly in Joaquin) is that families have to compete with investors. I would hope that once enough new high density student spaces are provided, demand from students (and therefore investors) for houses will go down, and prices for single-family homes should return to a level where we can compete with the rest of the county. I’m not in love with the newer developments, but assuming demand doesn’t change, every added student unit opens up one more unit for families. That can mean a lot of houses to buy.

  2. Pingback: Provo: The Poorest City in It’s Class | (pro(vo)cation)

  3. Pingback: This is Not Density, Or, Lying About Parking Ratios | (pro(vo)cation)

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