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This letter was sent from Craig Carlile to the Provo City Council and Mayor Lewis Billings. Craig Carlile serves on the Provo Planning Commission.  The original formatting has been preserved as closely as possible; any formatting errors or typos are do to it's reproduction here, and not due to Mr. Carlile.

 

March 7, 2000

 

VIA FACSIMILE TRANSMISSION

Provo City Council
351 West Center
Provo, Utah 84601

                    Re: SCAMP

Dear Council:

                        I have followed with interest the rumors of a proposed South Campus Area Management Plan ("SCAMP") for the area south of the B.Y.U. campus, including the recent legislation adopted by the Utah State Legislature to help facilitate such a proposal.  I have been concerned from the outset that this is a proposal that has been hatched and incubated in an environment designed to protect it from the heat of public scrutiny.  Not only has it not been the subject of any public discussion, it seems now to have become a foregone conclusion with the City Council and the Administration prepared to commit the public funds necessary to make it a "done deal."  Nevertheless, I am in favor of the perception I have of SCAMP, but only if, it is part of an integrated plan designed to accomplish the objectives of the recently adopted Provo City General Plan to reduce the number of non-owner occupied residences to an acceptable level, and only if the implementation of the plan does not cause traffic to exceed levels acceptable to Provo residents (sometimes referred to as environmental capacity).  I am also in favor of hiring a planning consultant to help in this area, but only if, his assignment includes determining whether it is even appropriate for this community to consider such a proposal, whether it is viable and whether there are more appropriate locations for the proposed project.  I am opposed to hiring a consultant if his assignment is to tell us how to implement this specific proposal at someone's preordained location.

                    SCAMP is better located in a different area of Provo.  It is unfortunate that this proposal has acquired the SCAMP acronym because it suggests that the area south of the B.Y.U. campus is the appropriate location for this kind of development.  What is the objective of SCAMP?  If the objective of SCAMP is to provide more student housing, then the appropriate location is the one closest to the campus that has the need for student housing.  That is not B.Y.U., it is U.V.S.C.  Two recent letters to the Mayor and to members of the City Council written by John B. Stohlton in his capacity as B.Y.U. appointed liaison with Provo City confirm that PROVO CITY DOES NOT NEED MORE STUDENT HOUSING!  In his letter of February 11, 2000, Mr. Stohlton referred to his experience as an LDS Stake President for a B.Y.U. stake and commented that at that time very few of the students in that stake were U.V.S.C. students.  He then explained that some B.Y.U. stakes now have upwards of 40% non-B.Y.U. students.  In his letter of February 24, 2000 he stated that he was "startled" to learn that U.V.S.C. planned to grow to a student population of 34,000 in the next ten years.1  He then went on to explain that approximately 35% of the U.V.S.C. students are living in Provo while 23% are living in Orem.  It is an admitted fact that there is more than sufficient housing in Provo to service the B.Y.U. population; the perceived shortage can be explained by the fact that the housing is being occupied by U.V.S.C. students.

1 I was surprised that he was startled since this is precisely the information the neighborhood chairs have been presenting to the city for several years, and President Romsburg was quoted in the paper as anticipating that U.V.S.C. will be at an enrollment of 40,000 by the end of the decade.  President Romsburg has also said that he does not want U.V.S.C. to ever get into the business of providing housing for its students.

                    If Provo City now wants to commit to provide more student housing even though it will serve only to accommodate U.V.S.C. students and even though it is contrary to the master plan and contrary to almost every elected officials campaign statements that you each wanted to decrease the percentage of non-owner occupancy in this city, then the appropriate location for a campus area management plan is Grand View which is closest to U.V.S.C.  The appropriate location is Sand Hill road which provides direct access to U.V.S.C.  That is why the acronym is unfortunate, because it predestines the project to be built in the wrong area.

                    Standing alone, SCAMP will not draw students out of residential neighborhoods.  The demand side of the equation is so skewed because of the unlimited growth of U.V.S.C. and Orem's reluctance to accommodate its own student population that it creates a vortex sucking U.V.S.C. students to Provo.  If B.Y.U. students move from the residential neighborhoods into SCAMP as touted by the proponents of SCAMP, then the vortex sucks into these now vacant residential apartments the ever increasing number of U.V.S.C. students.  Orem must be salivating at the prospect that Provo will build SCAMP because Orem will then not need to provide the housing.  The only way to accomplish the objective to reclaim the residential neighborhoods with SCAMP is to create a dam in the form of "protection zones" where student rentals will no longer be permitted to rent.  SCAMP should not be built to provide additional housing; it should be built to provide replacement housing for that which will be lost through the reclamation of the residential community.  Again, the objective as expressed in the general plan is to reduce non-owner occupancy.

                    SCAMP must be a walking community.  SCAMP as originally proposed, at least as I understood it, was to be a self-contained community where students would have no need for cars which would help solve parking and traffic problems.  It would also virtually assure that the housing would be for B.Y.U. students.  I now understand that objective has been abandoned.  I agree that enforcement of such a restriction is difficult, but there are ways to accomplish this objective.

                    Provo spent a good deal of money on a traffic study to establish environmental capacities for our roads.  Provo held a community night to explain to the community how this all was to work including computer generated traffic simulations.  It was exciting that Provo was finally addressing this critical issue, an issue that is consistently one of the core concerns with every development approved in this city.  Regrettably, it appears that as is true with so many other citizen motivated good ideas, the bureaucracy has succeeded in killing this one.  Where is the study?  Are we going to deal with environmental traffic capacities?  It is likely that SCAMP could not be built without vehicular limitations and meet the environmental traffic capacities so critical to this city.  We cannot continue to house U.V.S.C. students on the east side of Provo and have them drive to the west side of Orem and profess to be addressing the traffic problems in Provo.  We have only ourselves to blame for the problems at the 1200 south interchange and the expense required to solve those problems.  This is more than a livability issue; if we do not solve the traffic problem, it will be an economic concern driving business away from Provo.

                    Other multiple family dwelling units will not evolve into lower impact uses as a result of SCAMP.  I read with interest the paper quoting the Mayor as stating that older apartments would change over time to different uses.  This has not been the experience of this or any other community.  I have available published commentary on the issue of whether non-conforming uses evolve into conforming uses.  The experience is that they do not and that amortization requirements must be imposed to force the evolution.  As long as there is an ever expanding demand from U.V.S.C. for student rentals, the existing apartments will continue to exist, especially the substandard apartments.  Those landlords whose only interest is to extract the maximum economic benefit from their properties will continue to provide substandard housing with little additional investment to properly maintain those apartments.  As part of the SCAMP proposal, Provo City needs to incorporate a fit premises ordinance applicable to all housing in this community.  It should be an embarrassment to a community like Provo that it does not require the housing to be fit and habitable.

CONCLUSION

                    I am favorably disposed to a campus area management plan that is an integrated plan designed to reduce the percentage of non-owner occupancy in this city, that will comply with environmental traffic capacities, that will create protection zones to reclaim residential neighborhoods, that will amortize non-conforming uses and apply basic fit premises standards to all housing.  A piecemeal approach is unacceptable; Provo City does not have a good track record of following through with promises as is evidenced by the failure to complete the traffic study.  The worst possible result would be to build SCAMP and then not adopt any of the other necessary components as that simply increases non-owner occupancy for an Orem based student population with all of its attendant parking and traffic problems, none of which is consistent with the general plan.  I am most scared of promises of future action made to get SCAMP constructed; the other components get pushed to the bottom of the priority list and eventually lost in the bureaucratic shuffle.

                    I appreciate you considering my concerns.

                                                                                Sincerely,

 

                                                                                Craig Carlile

 

CC:rb

cc: Mayor Lewis Billings (via fax)

 

The Carliles
1302 East Hillsdale Circle
Provo, Utah 84608
Telephone No. (801) 374-8518