Editor’s note: This story was written by Jeremy Hale and Nicole Wood.
The City of Rexburg passed a new parking ordinance allowing student housing apartments to provide 25 percent fewer parking spaces for their tenants.
The previous ordinance required a one-car-to-one-bed ratio for dormitory parking spaces, according to Rexburg’s Community Development Code Chapter 5.
Mayor Jerry Merrill said the new ordinance will allow a 0.75-car-to-one-bed ratio if the apartment complex provides a concrete plan on how it will handle the decreased number of spaces.
Merrill said statistics show it is reasonable to lower the number of parking spots required by apartment complexes because not every student brings a car to campus.
“The statistics from BYU-Idaho show that 64 percent of the students bring cars and so, according to the developers, they were saying we could probably lower it down,” Merrill said. “We actually didn’t feel comfortable with lowering it that much because you still need visitor parking and everything.”
Merrill said the new ordinance would still grant parking spaces to 75 percent of students at each apartment building, but only if the developers produce a plan showing they can successfully manage the parking at their complex.
“Our experience has shown us that apartment complexes that have a good plan for managing their parking don’t really have problems,” Merrill said. “Our only contingency is that we will give them lower parking as long as they have good parking management plans that makes sense.”
Merrill said that because a greater portion of the 64 percent of students who own cars could potentially end up in the same apartment complexes, it is still the sole responsibility of apartment developers to recognize that some apartments are more likely than others to attract students who own cars.
“They have to be smart enough to manage their own business,” Merrill said. “We don’t want to control everything they do.”
Brooklyn Wease, a junior studying public health, said her experience with apartment parking has not been pleasant.
“When I moved to Northpoint, I had a problem because their parking filled up and I didn’t get a spot, and they pretty much said tough luck,” Wease said. “It was the morning of the first move-in day, so that was really frustrating.”
Wease said she was told to get a parking spot on campus in the free and overnight lots, but those were on the opposite side of campus, past the Thomas E. Ricks Building.
“I know that I wasn’t the only one who had problems because I had a roommate who had the same thing happen to her,” Wease said. “It was just frustrating for her, having to walk all the way up to the Ricks to grab her car and then having to walk all the way back from the Ricks, especially during the winter time. That’s no fun.”
Jeanne Breakall, a sophomore studying business management, said she lives at the Gates and thinks parking around campus, and at her friends’ apartment complexes, is not an enjoyable experience.
“Parking here is crazy,” Breakall said. “It’s like anywhere you go, you are paranoid you are going to get a ticket, even if you have a parking pass for the area, because it’s like everything is always changing. There’s just not enough room for parking.”
Breakall said the best apartments have plenty of visitor parking because, when one is visiting friends, visitor parking that is always filled or difficult to locate causes paranoia.
“You don’t know how long you can be there or where visitor parking is,” Breakall said. “I feel like you can talk to anyone and they’re like, ‘Don’t park there for three minutes because you will get booted.’”
Wease said the feeling of paranoia is felt by all students who own a car, especially when space is already so limited.
“My roommate got confused at where exactly her allowed parking was, so she got tickets all the time because she wasn’t parking in the right lots,” Wease said. “I’m paranoid about getting booted all the time.”
Merrill said businesses still need to be smart and know their customers’ needs in order to solve their parking issues.
“The limit is now 75 percent, but if statistics are showing that 85 percent of kids bring their cars to one particular apartment complex, then they probably need to put in 85 percent parking,” Merrill said. “As we get more and more apartments right around campus, the parking spaces become more of a premium, so they have to be thinking creatively to manage parking.”