Saturday, December 26, 2015

Provology 101 - Community Development and Economic Development

Provology 101, a series of classes that give a behind-the-scenes look at how Provo City runs, has given City departments the chance to show and tell about what they do for Provo. One of the participants, Anona Sobczak, has been sharing her experiences on Facebook and gave us permission to share them with you.

October 7, 2015

In an ironic twist of fate, I was late for the presentation by the Community Development department due to attending a Community Development meeting that ran two hours long. What a fascinating department though--a strange mix of tedious city code interpretation and high drama between neighbors.
What I did make it in time for was a quick education on having project cars parked at your house (two max, behind a screened fence), xeriscaping (you can't just put in rocks), minor and major home occupation licenses (this is what the conflict at my meeting centered around), and over-occupancy (hard to enforce).

Good to know: If you report a zoning issue to the city, by going to comdev.provo.org, your name will not be shared with the person you report. Since you probably want to continue living in harmony with your neighbors, reporting them to the city for code violations is a touchy situation. Apparently, sometimes people will bluff and tell their neighbors that Zoning told them who turned them in, in a attempt to ferret out who reported on them. Zoning will never tell, though! Their lips are sealed.
Planning also falls under Community Development. It is a very exciting department, because everyone is interested in the future of the city and where we're going to put the extra 110,000 people that are supposed to move in by 2040. We got to gather around a giant map and place stickers where we thought more people should go. We decided high density housing should be in neighborhoods close to the FrontRunner, and that we could fit some more people over on the West Side.
The Economic Development Department didn't really get all the time they should have for a department that's the center of many hot topics in the city. In the short time we had, we did some case studies and soon realized that there are no easy solutions to the business challenges the city faces. I thought it was interesting that Provo chooses to work with its existing businesses rather than spend a lot of time and money seeking out outside businesses. And now for my favorite quote of the night, (since I can never resist a good jab at Orem), "Provo has an authentic downtown, Orem has an authentic strip mall." Nice one!


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