P6170083, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from jsugalski’s photostream

Our permit parking system for residential neighborhoods was developed in the 1980s and is long overdue for an overhaul. As more large institutions and job centers move into areas bordering residential neighborhoods residential parking pressures have increased and longtime residents are fighting for neighborhood parking with commuters. We want to make the city viable for increased economic development and job growth. We also need to find better ways to preserve parking for long-time neighborhood residents. If we’re going to fix this issue, we need 21st century solutions. The one-­size fits all residential permit parking system currently being employed is not working for everyone. Neighborhoods throughout the city have different needs, and a cookie-­cutter RPP program does everyone a disservice.

1. A Multi-Pronged Approach

We need to make sure that the installation of residential permit parking on one street will not simply push parkers onto the next block. This domino effect just exacerbates the problem. We need a plan that keeps the parking situation in check. A concerted effort to provide increased public transportation assets, increase public parking facilities, and adjust our residential permit parking is the only way to tackle these issues.

As mayor, I will start by implementing the recommendations of the Responsible Hospitality Institute, which lays out a holistic approach to parking issues in residential neighborhoods with entertainment districts. These programs will particularly focus on communities where nighttime parking availability is an issue. But not every neighborhood faces parking pressure from bar patrons and diners. Many neighborhoods are becoming, in effect, park-and-ride lots for commuters who drive in from the suburbs, park in residential neighborhoods for free, and then hop on the East Busway to get to their jobs downtown or in the East End. We need to develop a more flexible residential permit parking model for these neighborhoods that limits commuter parking without unnecessarily impacting residents or patrons of the neighborhood business districts.

2. Making the System Work for Residents

When I am in the neighborhoods, one problem that frequently comes up is the need for parking for home health care aides and childcare providers. Currently, our residential permit parking system makes it very difficult for these day-to-day workers to drive to work. Until we are able to expand our transit system and offer better connectivity, we can’t simply suggest transit as an optimal alternative. Similar to a successful program in San Francisco, I will bring residents, childcare providers, and health care companies together to craft a policy to make sure workers can get to the residents who need them. I also want to make sure that other aspects of the program, such as visitors passes for houseguests or contractors, are reformed to make the process simpler for our residents. Several cities, such as Arlington, Virginia, have multiple guest passes that residents can purchase for single day use and extend for longer periods. We need to find ways to make the program more flexible and less of a burden on people’s day-to-day lives.

3. Enforcing Our Parking Laws

Ultimately, reforms to the mechanics of the program mean little without a concerted enforcement effort. I will work to make sure our parking enforcement program is adequately staffed, particularly during the times of peak demand. Using 311 data and performance targeting, we will make sure our enforcement agents are in the communities they are going to have the most impact in and that face the most residential parking pressure.