Author Archives: Free Provo

About Free Provo

We are Provo residents who strive to uphold all that's best in America's wonderful political heritage of rightful liberty under Constitutional law---and who feel deeply concerned that our city officers in recent years have not been doing likewise.

Centrally-Planning Affordable Housing

Provo’s city council is currently considering allowing residents to maintaining accessory apartments within homes that they occupy, along with detached apartments and even “tiny” homes, subject to certain conditions, all in pursuit of a city goal to render local housing more affordable.

It’s great that these city councilors may decide to allow Provoans to exercise property rights within carefully-restricted limits—but why limit these property rights in the first place? Ideally, their only limits should be the equal rights of others. Why not police those natural boundaries and, otherwise, allow residents to exercise their property rights as they please?

This goal accompanies other city goals (including those found in Vision 2030/2050) such as reducing the amount of rental housing available within Provo, redistributing renters to other parts of Utah county, restricting the number of renters per unit, et cetera, all of which is helping to render local rental housing less affordable.

All of these somewhat-conflicting policies are part of a broader effort by Provo’s city council to centrally-plan our local economy as much as residents will allow. And, based upon Vision 2030/2050 plus what’s been heard in public meetings, those aspirations extend even to regulating our diet-and-exercise while deciding how we will landscape our yards. Do we want the city choosing the aesthetics of our homes?

Are they our masters or our servants? If ownership is defined as the right to determine how something is used, then are “our” homes truly our property or theirs?

What Provo’s city council could do, instead, is to simply respect that every Provoan has God-given (or natural) rights to their respective persons, property, children, et cetera, which end where the equal rights of others begin, along with rights to interact either contractually or defensively—and that their job is merely to assist Provoans in defending such basic rights against others’ aggression.

This change-of-attitude would restore a relatively free market in Provo, and free us as individuals from the increasingly-burdensome requirements of city ordinances, which have been multiplying since 2001. It would also render Provo’s city government cheaper and smaller and better-able to focus on defending our rights rather than attempting to run our lives by commanding us in all things.

But this change-of-attitude almost certainly won’t occur without a change-of-leadership. Provo’s city council has, for many years, remained firmly dominated by central planners over free marketeers. This is probably because most Provoans don’t bother to participate in local elections but instead abdicate participation to a tiny fraction of their neighbors, of which a slight majority are statists who elect fellow statists to public office.

We can change this status quo by choosing to both educate and inform ourselves about municipal issues, and then to involve ourselves regularly in local politics, while seeking and activating and mobilizing like-minded neighbors to join us. Together, we can achieve a freer city, which may serve a start to a freer state, nation, and world. Please start now by making some concrete goals and plans. And, if our website helps, then please use it.


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Provo Primary Election 2019

Provo, like other Utahn cities, is hosting its biennial primary elections this August 13th (Tuesday).

Most of us arguably don’t pay enough attention to these local elections—but, if political power were as maximally decentralized as it should be (with most of it remaining in individual households), then our local elections would become more important than our national elections.  Even despite our political system’s massive centralization since 1789, our local elections still play an important role in giving various candidates experience that they may use to campaign for other offices—for example, John Curtis leveraged his experience as Provo mayor to campaign for U. S. Congress.  Sadly, few Utahn voters seemed to pay much attention to Curtis’ “liberal” mayoral record of attempted tax hikes and grandiose central planning, as this former Democrat seemingly changed political parties without changing principles.

Tragically, John Curtis principles have not been the exception in Provos government, but the rule for many years.  Why would conservative Provoans consistently elect such liberal politicians?  Presumably because most Provoans dont bother to participate in municipal elections, and the small fraction of Provoans who bother to participate are more-than-half statists who elect fellow statists.  Thankfully, it doesnt need to be this wayProvoans who value their rightful liberty can help both educate and inform their neighbors to embrace better principles, and can organize like-minded ones for political victory.  Sometimes, free-marketeer candidates have lost city races by narrow margins, in which cases even a dozen votes could have made a big difference.

So, how can we make a difference this year?  Ideally, by finding worthy candidates early and then rallying around thembut, since its a bit too late for this now, well instead need to examine our existing options, eliminate unworthy choices, and select the best candidates among any that remain.  This year, Provoans will elect three new city councilors (one city-wide and two from city districts), but were having some trouble finding any clearly-worthy options among them.

  • For this years city-wide seat, both David Shipley and Janae Moss seem to favor central planning.
  • In district 3, Shannon Ellsworth appears to be a skilled central planner who wants Smart Growth, Robin Roberts aspires to centrally-plan away poverty from our midst, and Jeff Handy seems a bit enigmatic.
  • In district 4, it appears that all four candidates (namely: Beth Alligood, Eric Ludwig, Travis Hoban, and Valerie Paxman) favor some degree of city control of our municipal economy in various ways, which may include public transportation or regulated construction or public energy.

So, this is why we wholeheartedly endorse no candidates this year.  If you believe that we should reconsider this conclusion, then please tell us why.

If you dont want to see the same scarcity of worthy candidates in 2021 when Provoans will elect four more city councilors, plus another mayor, then please involve yourself over these next two years to slowly-but-steadily build support for better candidates among your neighbors.  If you find our website helpful for this purpose, then please feel free to use it.  Thanks!


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Provo’s Big Budget for 2020

Provo’s city council recently approved a budget for the 2020 fiscal year. That budget will total about $254,000,000.

Divided among about 117,335 residents, this means that each resident’s share will be about $2,165/year (or $180/month), which is now slightly more than socialist-dominated Los Angeles spends per year per resident. However, Provo’s residents include a higher percentage of children than LA’s—and, considering that Provo’s average household size (in the U. S. census of 2010) was 3.24, this means that each Provoan household’s share of the city budget will be about $7,014/year (or $584/month).

And, if Provo’s budget were perfectly balanced, and if its taxes were levied only upon its own residents, then this would mean that each Provoan household would be paying an average of $584/month, as well. That’s more than some single Provoans spend each month on rent, even with Provo’s city council inflating local rental prices by restricting supply! Thankfully, Provo isn’t sending such huge bills every year to every household—but, even so, that’s a LOT of cash-flow!

Is your household truly getting $584/month in value from Provo city services? Perhaps we liberty-lovin’ Provoans should give a bit more scrutiny to where all of this spending has been going! (By the way, is are you a skilled liberty-lovin’ accountant who’d like to investigate this for us?)

Ideally, a city government (like any other government) should focus on rights-defense, and perhaps on some basic infrastructure like roads, but it shouldn’t be running either our economy or our lives, nor managing a vast array of business operations that are better left in the hands of private entrepreneurs. Sadly, Provo’s municipal government has increasingly engaged in the latter since 2001, as its city code has more than doubled, while Vision 2030/2050 is now guiding its city council toward ever-more centralized command-and-control. When Provo’s city council was seriously debating mandatory city-regulated landscaping for every Provoan home in 2016, this suggested (to some of us) that our fair city was in serious peril!

Such ongoing statist trends can only be thwarted through new leadership. So, if you want to keep Provo free and, therefore, both prosperous and progressing, then please involve yourself NOW to scrutinize this year’s candidates for city council and to actively promote any worthy ones that you can find!


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Provo Regulation Renders Housing Less Affordable

One sad side-effect of Utah County’s recent growth is that, as demand for housing rises sharply while supply lags behind it, average home prices are rising at about 10% per year, which is significantly higher than inflation. These trends may please some current homeowners who are seeing their assets rise in relative value, but it is also rendering local housing significantly less affordable for new homebuyers and/or renters, especially as wages remain stagnant.

In a healthy free-market economy, whenever demand for something (such as low-cost housing) rises, suppliers normally rush to satisfy that demand. If that’s not happening, then it suggests that there’s some sort of problem, which is usually political.

So, what is Provo’s city government doing to exacerbate such problems?

Provo’s city government already imposes limits on how many people can rent rooms together at a given residence. And its Vision 2030 asserts that Provo has “too many” renters and not enough homeowners and, as such, it proposes to restrict rental housing within Provo city limits while essentially redistributing Provo’s renters to other parts of Utah County. Such policies, which artificially restrict the supply of rental housing within Provo, raise everyone’s rent.

Within the last ten years, Provo city council members have also discussed enhancing zoning restrictions by adding form-based code to regulate not only the inward function but also the outward appearance of new buildings. And, at Vision 2030 meeting in 2016, they even entertained the possibility of mandatory city-regulated landscaping for every residence. Such restrictions impede the supply of new housing (whether to rent or to own) while needlessly rendering it more costly.

Moreover, Provo’s city code does not currently accommodate “tiny homes,” which are currently growing in popularity as some Americans seek simpler less-expensive housing in order to spend their earnings on other pursuits.

And what is Provo’s government doing to alleviate such problems?

Provo’s current “solutions” mostly center around increased political intervention into the marketplace through taxes, regulations, subsidies, partnerships, et cetera, to finagle the market into producing more of the sort of housing that its other policies are inhibiting from being built. Such public-sector solutions are normally both less efficient and more costly than their private-sector alternatives, and they tend to yield either mixed or even counterproductive results.

Rather than pursue a slow step-by-step course toward a state-run economy, we should instead advocate for genuinely-free markets, in which people’s rights to both property and contract are respected rather than usurped. If you agree, then please voice such opinions to our local politicians while they are now actively considering what policies to pursue to render local housing more affordable.


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Rights-Defenders Wanted for Provo City Council in 2019

It’s sad that Provo politics have arguably become dominated by statists whose policies (like rights-violations, taxes, subsidies, city-run businesses, regulations, et cetera) don’t reflect the conservative free-market values of most Provoans. Perhaps this is because nearly all Provoans assume that, because so many of their neighbors share their values, all must be well within their local government and, therefore, there’s no good reason to bother to participate in local politics. This unwise attitude contributes to the result that only about 10%-15% of Provoans bother to vote in most municipal elections, with about half of those voters persistently favoring central planners over free-marketeers. And the end result is that the very few statists who live among us essentially control our local politics.

This shouldn’t be so! We who value our freedom should educate ourselves about what’s happening in our local politics, involve ourselves, and help our like-minded neighbors to join us. In some Provo city council districts, even a few dozen passionate champions of our God-given rights could potentially be enough to tip the electoral balance back toward rightful liberty.

Of course, voting doesn’t do much good if there’s nobody worth electing! Which is why those of us who value our freedom should also consider running for public office—not because we lust for power but because it’s our moral duty. So, if you are an adult U. S. citizen who has lived within Provo since (at least) last November, if you are registered to vote in Provo, and if you are both willing and able to serve in public office, then please consider running for city council! This year, Provoans will elect new city councilors for districts 1, 3, 4, plus a citywide councilor. You can officially declare your candidacy for one of these open seats within the next two days (until June 7th) between 8AM and 5PM at the Provo City Recorder’s Office.

So, don’t wait for someone else to be a hero—instead, “BE the change that you want to see in this world.” Declare your candidacy within the next 42 hours or so and help keep Provo a wonderful thriving place to live!


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Our Politically-Managed Airport

It’s wonderful that we enjoy a nice regional airport here in Utah County, and that it’s apparently prospering well enough to merit some expansion, which will increase its capacity to benefit its growing number of customers, and will produce positive “ripple effects” upon everyone who lives in our county.

But why is this growing local transportation hub being run by politicians rather than by entrepreneurs?  And why are its managers lobbying legislators to compel us (and others) to fund its expansion, rather than raising such capital from profits or savings or loans or investments or whatnot?  The state exists to exercise its coercive powers to help us to expertly defend ourselves from others’ aggression, NOT to figuratively pick our pockets to fund its growing array of business ventures, which are beyond its scope, and which distract it from its proper role.

Such business is best left to the private sector, where it normally operates efficiently and effectively and innovatively, while any exceptions are generally both rare and fleeting.  These norms-and-exceptions are reversed in the public sector, in which politically-managed businesses often exercise state power to defend their poor performance from unwanted competition.  Although our local airport may (or may not) be faring alright for the moment, it would fare far better if our city officers were to fully privatize it without any lingering political “strings” attached.  We need to set this airport free!

Sadly, Provo’s current public officers don’t appear to share such views, and haven’t done so for a long time.  Which is why Provo’s expanding municipal government now runs a redevelopment agency, a power company, an airport, a television channel, a library, a performing arts center, a recreation center, a fitness center, a golf course, an ice rink, a water park, a beach, a park service, a gun range, a garbage-collection service, a recycling service, and a cemetery, none of which are involved in defending our rights.  And it’s also why we who value our rightful liberty need to get educated, informed, and active in our local elections or else these ongoing statist trends may slowly ruin Provo just as they’ve ruined Detroit and other cities (or even entire nations).

As Utah’s weather improves, we urge you to please go kindly confront your neighbors, engage them in discussion about these issues, and organize like-minded ones for regular victory in our city elections.  And, if our website helps for that purpose, then please use it.  If you succeed, then we can regain a lean city government that effectively defends our rights, while allowing us the freedom to keep Provo such a great place to live, hopefully for many generations to come.  And wouldn’t that be worth the bother?


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Mayor Poppins for Reelection?

It seems that Provo’s current mayor, Michelle Kaufusi, enjoys something of a penchant for showmanship, making quite a number of appearances on camera in brief musicals and parodies and such.  (And, on a related note, our city definitely enjoys some notable videographic talent!)

Mayor Kaufusi’s most notable appearances have arguably come during her State of the City addresses.  During last year’s address, she appeared in a pre-recorded Star Wars parody video that portrayed her predecessor, Mayor Curtis, handing her a light saber symbolizing our city to wield.  During this year’s State of the City address, she appeared in another pre-recorded video, this time parodying Mary Poppins floating above Provo while promoting “getting everyone together to talk it out.”

As for her latest appearance, it’s laudable that she is striving to use the “bully pulpit” of her office to promote both civility and cooperation and unity, especially in a pursuit like politics that seems to naturally attract the proud-and-contentious.  But, at the same time, her latest video is almost propagandistic in its over-the-top ending that gushes over how Mayor Kaufusi/Poppins is “practically perfect in every way.”  Such messaging should be reserved for campaign funds rather than for tax revenue—which is a relatively small quibble, perhaps, but not a trivial one.

While teamwork is highly beneficial, some would add that we should always cooperate in accordance with God’s two greatest commandments, which include the Golden Rule, which others would say includes mutually respecting each other’s equal God-given rights.  Sadly, such respect for basic rights has proven sadly lacking among Provo city officers for at least two decades.  These officers need to stop trying to run Provo but, instead, set it free.  Like any other political system, Provo’s municipal government’s proper role is to assist us in defending our rightful liberty from others’ aggression, and not to otherwise control us.

If you agree with us that better city government is needed, then please get educated, informed, and involved in Provo’s city elections regularly, and help your like-minded neighbors to do likewise. And, if our website helps, then please feel free to use it.  This year’s municipal elections are only eight months away.


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