Singles vs. Families?: A Brief Overview of Provo’s Newest Contentious Ordinance

On October 3rd, Provo City Council was supposed to vote on a new ordinance. This has been tabled until November.

What is the proposed ordinance? The city would require all landlords to have a contract with their tenants that included an attachment outlining the legal occupancy limits. That is, the proposed attachment would explain that no more than three unrelated people can live together. (There are some exceptions for student housing.) If the landlord or a tenant violated the contract amendment, they could potentially be charged with a class B misdemeanor.

September 20th was the Rental Law Open House hosted by the Provo City Council, that included a discussion about rental laws, zoning compliance, and a discussion about “baching,” which is a term that refers to singles and where they live.

Proponents of the ordinance claim that it is not discriminatory; the ordinance would enforcing already existing laws. Many people argue that there is a lack of parking in Provo, and that the lack is partially due to landlords violating zoning laws and taking on too many tenants. For them, the proposed ordinance is a way to get people to follow the existing laws. Some members of the community would like more people to be homeowners, rather than home renters, and they believe this new ordinance will make that shift.

Others see the ordinance as a highly ineffective way to deal with the issues of zoning and parking. Single young professionals feel that this ordinance is a way for them to be pushed out of Provo residential neighborhoods, and they argue that the maximum of three unrelated people is unfair, since individuals who are related do not have this maximum requirement. Young single professionals, as well as renters, believe that the ordinance will be unfairly enforced. These people also argue that Provo City does not have the means to be enforcing this zoning.

This debate is certainly heated. On the one side, young single professionals feel singled out and unfairly targeted, and on the other side, some families feel their neighborhoods are being taken over by a crowd they would rather keep out.

It will be fascinating to see what the city council decides. Both sides would argue that the City Council should choose a sustainable solution based in research and the discussions they have had with residents when they vote in November. Too often, government makes its own decisions without weighing in the facts and the input of the people. Here is hoping that this will be different.


Provo housing: singles vs. families?

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