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Fair Zoning Initiative (back to Index)

" Zoning ordinances may not discriminate based on marital status, or familial status, or real property ownership status, or educational status or whether the occupants are related or unrelated by blood. "

Frequently Answered Questions(FAQ) / Talking Points

  • Q: How do the current zoning laws discriminate and how will they change if this initiative is passed?
    A: Check out this detailed breakdown of the current laws with links so that you can read it all for yourself. Don't just take our word for it -- check it out yourself! :-)
     
  • Q: Is the Fair Zoning Initiative an attempt to throw out all occupancy limits?
    A: No. We advocate parking limit substitutions. We suggest that the city council enact a parking policy(not permits) that applies to everyone -- renter, owner, married, single – everybody. There shouldn't be more cars kept at a property than the number of parking spaces on the property. The same parking policy for everybody – independent of any class of people. Doing this acts as an indirect limit on occupancy levels.
     
  • Q: What exactly is the appropriate use of zoning?
    At the macro level, zoning is to separate uses of the land -- industrial, commercial, and residential uses. However there is a line that divides macro-management from micro-management of property. This line should only be crossed for health, safety, and general welfare reasons. Zoning ordinances should be limited in their application to real property. In other words zoning laws are about property and not about people. All people are of equal worth. For instance, parking problems should be solved by parking ordinances, not by occupancy limits based on marital status.
     
  • Q: Is the Fair Zoning Initiative anti-family?
    A: No. It is the good principles that the residents live by that make a neighborhood a family friendly environment. In other words, a family friendly environment is not a function of the residents’ marital status, family status, or educational status. Neither is it a product of whether the residents own or rent their homes. What are the good principles? Honesty, respect, selflessness, humility, doing unto others as you would have done unto you, and brotherly kindness, etc. Provo's current zoning laws are anti-cousins and anti-inlaws. Click here to read it for yourself.
     
  • Q: Should some neighborhoods or zones be exclusively for families?
    A: No. We understand that parents have good motives in wanting the best for their children but exclusion as a principle is not healthy for a community. It's good to be protective of children. However, excluding others from a neighborhood or zone because of a difference in their life circumstances is going too far. Diversity of basically good people and the principle of inclusion are good for a community. Zones can be conducive and nurturing to children without being exclusively for families.
    All residential zones should foster the growth of families and it can be done without limiting singles. We need to remember that we are all one family -- God's family. When the millenium is in full bloom and there is peace on earth, do we really think there will be segregation, unequal treatment or discrimination on some basis other than against bad behavior or bad things? To do so now takes us in the wrong direction. If we want to move towards peace on earth, discrimination should be limited to against bad behavior and bad things.
     
  • Q: Do the current zoning laws cause financial and emotional hardship?
    A: Yes! It impacts widows/widowers/families/singles – anybody that owns a home and wants to rent out part or all of it.
    What if there's a widow that has to move to a nursing home and needs to rent out her home? Either she can rent her home to a family for $1000/month or she can rent the 5-bedroom home, and 5 offstreet parking spaces to 5 singles for $1250. She's desperate because she has limited insurance and not much saved up. Either we allow her to rent to 5 singles or she sells her house? What if it was your mother or grandmother? Please check back soon for a link to a database of zoning horror stories -- stories of your neighbors and friends that have been personally hurt by these unjust zoning laws.
     
  • Q: What about "preserving the nature of the family neighborhoods"?
    A: The nature of family neighborhoods would only change if the principles that people live by change -- if everyone would live by good principles then yes, the nature of family neighborhoods would change for the better! We shouldn't be having a turf battle between married and singles -- it's a distraction from the battle that we really ought to be putting our energy into. We should be fighting a common enemy -- our common enemy is those things that are destroying family units and single individuals alike. Some of those things are pornography, drug abuse, violence/anger problems, etc.
     
  • Q: Are the current zoning laws unjust?!
    A: Yes! What if we knew that race X had in the past committed more robberies than other races? Would we then segregate race X to another part of town? Would we then want only a certain ratio or quota of race X in our neighborhoods? Or would we limit race X to not owning any guns? Would we punish an entire group of people because of part of the group's behavior? Of course not!! It's the same principle with renters, landlords, and singles. It is an unjust judgement to place limitations and restrictions on an entire group of people because of the actions of some members of the group. Should current renters and landlords be held accountable for the carelessness of previous renters and landlords? No.
     
  • Q: What about inequality -- are there double standards?
    A:Yes, there are double standards in the current city laws. Why should we have different laws for different groups of people? There should be one law for everybody. We are all equal under God and we should all be equal under the law. We already know that there shouldn't be different limits for different races so there shouldn't be different limits for these different groups. Limiting one group while not limiting the other group is fundamentally unequal. There should be equal opportunity for all.
     
  • Q: What about the “slumlords” and the unsightly properties?
    A:
    1. Enforce existing "nuisance yard" laws. Punish bad behavior, don't punish the whole group.
    2. Who is responsible for the property? The tenants or the landlord or the property manager? It's unjust to blame those not responsible. Don't penalize or limit them when you should be holding the property manager accountable.
    3. Talk with your neighbors that rent -- talk with their property manager or landlord -- don't write them off just because others have been uncaring in the past. You have to try multiple times.
    4. Send a letter to all landlords encouraging them to be on their best behavior.
    5. Give awards for good rental properties to the property manager with a gift certificate.
    6. Neighbors of unsightly properties should take a picture of the offending property and mail it to the owner and manager. This is particularly important if the owner doesn't live in Provo so that they know about the condition of the property.

     
  • Q: Aren't you advocating rights without responsibility?
    A: No, not at all! There are many opponents who don't even take the time to listen to us who think that we're advocating rights with zero responsbility. Nothing could be farther from the truth!
    Every homeowner and landlord and renter needs to be responsible and realize that our privileges to live in this great city come with a price of responsibility. We think you'll see throughout our answers an underlying sense of responsibility. It is important that we hold responsible the accountable parties and not punish those that are innocent!
     
  • Q: What about having the best possible environment to raise children in?
    A: Yes, neighborhoods and communities really need to act together as a village to help raise the children. There does need to be enough adults participating in the churches and organizations and schools. But whether or not an adult gets involved is not necessarily tied to parental status. It has nothing to do with marital or parental status if your heart is full of love and kindness for your fellow beings.But some say "don't only the long-term residents get involved?" That's partially true but the long term residents should encourage their short term neighbors to participate. There might be parents that don't want to get involved since they know they'll only be here for one or two years. We need to gently encourage those short term parents to get involved and not make them feel bad if they can only help for a few months. And why can't single adults with no children get involved also? We know many, many, single schoolteachers and singles who serve in family ward callings working with children. There are also unrecognized numbers of single adults who volunteer in community programs here in Provo. Everybody contributes. It is not a function of marital status. So what can be done to encourage more family friendly neighborhoods?
    1. Everybody should first look inwards and make sure that they're living good principles so the example that they set to the rising generation is good. The principles that people live by is the very most important thing that makes a family friendly neighborhood.
    2. Long term residents should reach out to their neighbors that are renters or single or both. Especially if they don't go to the same church or school. Do you realize how many people in Provo don't talk regularly with their neighbors who live next to them yet go to a different church or ward?
    3. Encourage renters or singles to get involved in local organizations even if they're only here for a short time. Who says that leadership positions at church, or school, or clubs have to be filled by people who live in the area for many years?
    4. A neighborhood is not a clique; it's not a club for long-term residents; we should welcome everybody with a hand of friendship.
    5. We believe that most people care but sometimes just procrastinate talking with their new neighbors that are renters or single. Dont' be embarrassed -- it's better to say hi after a few months than to keep on putting it off. Everyone will appreciate it. The same is true for single residents. They should reach out to their family neighbors and get to know them. When singles move into a neighborhood, they shouldn't wait for the families to introduce themselves to them. The point is, neither group should be waiting for the other to take the first step.
    We can't legislate these types of suggestions that encourage each other to be family-friendly. We just have to have patience and work with one another. You can't legislate kindness. We can only legislate against bad behavior. Are all singles bad people?
     
  • Q: How will the Fair Zoning Initiative affect the number of children in a neighborhood?
    A: Some have argued for limits on singles – in effect a quota -- to reserve the neighborhood for families with children so that their own children will have friends to play with. But it’s the principles that the parents and children live by.
    Listen to what a Provo mother said:

    I am dismayed at the current zoning debate raging in Provo, which restricts the number of singles allowed to live together. In today's society of supposed equality, the idea of discrimination based on any type of status — in this case marital — flies in the face of everything I thought America stood for.

    Making restrictions based on behavior such as noise, parking, upkeep of a home and safety concerns is one thing, but saying "you cannot live in my neighborhood because of who you are" is another thing entirely. As a wife and mother, I would be horrified if the government were to place restrictions on who could be a part of my family, or where we could live.

    It is akin to sanctioning segregation in an attempt to enforce the hopes and expectations of some homeowners while ignoring the civil rights of others. It does not guarantee playmates for my girls, the church we would go to or the school we would attend. That is no one's job but mine --- ....

    I would be doing my girls a disservice in teaching them that my rights can trample someone else's, and I would be depriving them of growth and diverse friendships if I limited who could live by us in fear it would "change the nature of the neighborhood." Provo needs all residents to have equal rights and decent housing, even the unmarried ones.

    Sarah Ruff
  • Q: Will more schools be closed as a result of the Fair Zoning Initiative?
    A: We don't know. But Provo is sending a bad message by these zoning laws that singles are not fully welcome. The answer can be no -- if students who come to Provo for an education felt more welcomed in our community, then they would be more likely to stay around after they are married and finished with their education. As we know young married couples have children relatively soon in this city -- there would be no shortage of children. Schools would not be closed if young married couples felt like Provo was a nicer place to raise a family. Our schools could be full.
     
  • Q: So why do singles want to live in family neighborhoods?
    A: For some of the same reasons – quietness, your own space, your own backyard, good neighbors – just overall good quality -- and it's fun to interact with families too.
     
  • Q: Are property values more important than equality and just judgement? No,we don't compromise our principles because of frustrating circumstances. We do not pass discriminatory laws in order to help just one segment of the population. The ends do not justify the means! Nobody is smart enough to make laws to try to artificially control the prices of homes.
     
  • Only about 45% of adults in Provo are married and approximately 55% of adults in Provo are single! Yet none of the city council members are single -- the single adults point of view is not really represented by our leaders. These statistics about Provo residents do not represent a problem of any kind. Therefore, there never has been any need to do something about them. Provo is a university town and it should be expected to find a higher number of single adults living here. source:http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/49/4962470.html , 2003 Estimates
     
  • Q: Aren't most of the landlords “greedy out of state people?!”
    A: No. Note that "greedy" is an actual quote that we've heard from some people that support the current zoning laws. To get perspective, here are some facts: Out of 2,581 registered landlords in Provo, 25.1% of them are Provo residents. And including Provo, 66.7% of landlords are Utah residents. That means that 33% of the landlords live out of state. Many are families with 2nd homes who are just trying to provide for themselves; they do care about what their tenants do.
    source: Rental Dwellings in http://www.provo.org/downloads/finance/business_list.xls, 5/22/2007
     
  • Students and graduated singles bring in money. You could say that Provo would be like Santaquin if it wasn't for BYU and UVSC. Out of town students that move here bring in millions of dollars to our local economy.
     
  • Closely related to that -- BYU is the largest employer in the county providing almost 15,000 jobs. source: http://www.co.utah.ut.us/Dept/UVEDA/ComProfile/Provo.asp
     
  • Q: How does the Fair Zoning Initiative affect the problem of Urban Flight?
    A: When an individual feels unwelcome as a single adult they will pack up and leave when they are done with their education. Singles get married and have children. Wouldn't they be more likely to stay in Provo if they had been more accepted and more welcomed while they were single?

Thane M. Andersen (independent volunteer)
801-921-7991

Roger L. Brown
ProvoCitizens.net, 801-356-1032

P.S. Note from Roger: Read http://www.planning.org/affordablereader/pracplanner/hudvol2no4.htm and search for "accessory apartments" on their website to see how the American Planning Association speaks out against zoning restrictions on who can have accessory apartments in their homes. Tens of thousands of city planners can't be wrong. Our Provo City Council as a whole needs to better listen and have an open heart on the matter. I pray they change their minds soon before more families suffer and have to sell their homes which would cause more turn-over. The Council is shooting themselves in the foot and us too -- they're making their constituents suffer. Let's not give up hope but keep up the good fight with patience and respect. :-) You never know who will have a change of heart. Our principles are solid and truth will win out! Truth is on our side!

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