The city sent out surveys last week to residents asking if they would support a Residential Permit Parking Program that would establish, for the first time, a limit on how long visitors can park. A group of neighbors, led by Ken Alsman, has long clamored for such a program to address what they say is a huge parking problem in Professorville. Many blame downtown workers for parking their cars in Professorville, which is one of the few areas downtown that currently doesn't have a two-hour parking limit.
The city is looking to pursue the permit program on a six-month trial basis. The time limit would be in effect on weekdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., according to a letter from the city's Transportation Division. Each property tenant in the permit area would get one permit at no charge. Additional permits for the trial period would be available for $50, the letter states. A few permits would also be available for non-residents.
But the project is far from a done deal. To proceed with the trial, the city would need at least 60 percent of the residents who respond to the surveys to support the parking program. The area is roughly bounded by Emerson Street on the west, Waverley Street to the east and Addison and Lincoln avenues to the north and south. It also includes the Bryant Street block between Addison and Channing avenues, according to a map sent to residents.
If enough residents support the trial, the City Council will have a chance to approve it on July 16. Residents have until June 30 to return their surveys.
The city decided to proceed with the trial in response to complaints from residents, many of whose homes are so old, they lack garages. The neighbors have complained at public hearings about having to park many blocks away because downtown workers leave their cars in Professorville all day to avoid moving their cars every two hours. Some residents, including those in the Downtown North neighborhood, have expressed concern that instituting the permit program in Professorville would only exacerbate the parking shortage in other areas around downtown that don't have a time limit.
City officials have been meeting with Professorville residents, business owners and other stakeholders in recent months to determine what a potential permit program would look like. In its letter, city officials wrote that the proposed program was developed "through a collaborative effort of Professorville residents and downtown business interests." Staff plans to continue the outreach throughout the trial period before deciding whether to make the permit program permanent, according to the letter.
"City staff intends to monitor the pilot project throughout the trial by collecting data and holding community meetings to solicit public input on the project midway through and toward the end of the trial period," the letter states. "Staff will then make a recommendation to the City Council to either retain the program if successful and expand it as needed; modify the pilot for another trial; or make the decision not to proceed and remove the RPPP signage."
If the city were to adopt the program permanently, the price of the permits would be set at a level to make the program cost-neutral, according to the letter.