Panel in Provo suggests ending free parking downtown, residents react

Posted at 9:54 PM, Dec 17, 2014
and last updated 2014-12-17 23:54:02-05

PROVO, Utah -- The days of free parking on the streets of downtown Provo could be coming to an end, as the city is studying the idea of adding parking meters.

It’s one of many suggestions being made by a new parking panel formed by the city. With new housing, businesses, a convention center and soon a temple in the downtown area, parking has become a premium.

Many business owners, especially on University Avenue, are frustrated that the prime on-street parking spots located right outside their doors are being taken up by the same cars all day.

"Most everybody is just trying to get as close to the front door as they can, pop into the businesses and then take off again," said Morgan Coleman, owner of Taste, which is a new chocolate shop on University Avenue. “A lot of people, if they don't see one right out front they just drive away."

The city said by adding meters, it entices those long term visitors to use the free parking lots or garages, opening up street space for customers.

"You want to turn those spaces over; you want to charge the most for the most in demand commodity," said Josh Yost, planner for the City of Provo. "We know from data and research that people who want to park right in front and have that convenient spot are willing to pay some amount of premium."

Christopher Gabrielson’s family is on the verge of opening up a sandwich shop along University Avenue. He's against parking meters.

"To put in paid parking and basically start taxing people coming to my business is definitely a negative impact," he said. "We definitely would not want that to start happening."

Alexander Jenkins is in downtown Provo at least twice a week. He said he doesn't want to pay for parking, but he said it's better than the alternative.

"It's becoming increasingly more difficult, especially in this area by the new temple being built," Jenkins said. "You’re trying to get to an event on time, sometimes I'm driving 20 to 30 minutes just to find parking, drop my family off, and who knows where I'm going to end up."

The decision to add parking meters is expected to be made by the city this April.

Provo is also looking into whether or not to establish an actual parking department. According to Yost, all of the city's parking issues are currently split between several different departments, so it’s no one’s top priority.