German Village Gazette

Village notebook

Responses to parking survey vitally important

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New "no-parking" signs were posted last fall on German Village alleys.
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Sometimes the cozy business of parking in a neighborhood like ours becomes something that unites neighbors. Sometimes it divides them.

My plea to you this week is to be on the united side and help us fill in a parking survey created and led by a group of volunteers.

You read about it in these pages a few weeks ago, but we'd like to get 100-plus responses and we're stuck at about 70.

You can visit our website and click on the headline about the parking survey to help us get to our goal.

The survey follows on a city action last fall to post no-parking signs in about nine Village alleys.

City officials said they made the changes after emergency services and refuse trucks expressed concerns about illegal parking, especially in alleys where garage doors were blocked or the alley was too narrow to accommodate a parked vehicle and a passing vehicle.

When parking officials presented their plan to the German Village Society Board of Trustees last spring, they said all of the alleys identified had been measured, and all by code were no-parking areas anyway -- they had just never had posted signs.

Since the signs went up in October, several residents' vehicles have been displaced.

A grassroots group of volunteers keeping in touch with the Civic Relations Committee is now trying to find out just how many cars were displaced when the signs went up.

Civic Relations is also trying to get a better sense of parking in the entire German Village historic footprint -- so all responses are welcome on the survey.

Of course, the Village isn't alone. I've been at the table as Italian Village, Short North and Victorian Village grapple with much more tangled parking issues.

Andy Klein, who leads the Italian Village Society's Parking and Traffic Committee, said the city told area leaders in November a total of 728 permits had been issued for 186 spaces in the neighborhood.

That was a database glitch, the city explained, but it leaves a BIG problem.

I asked to be in on those seemingly neighborhood-centric discussions because I think some of what the city and those three neighborhood groups learn, and the policies they set as a result, will likely trickle down to us here in the Village.

I want a voice at that table and the city has been gracious in inviting me.

Because, in addition to the alley parking changes, I'm aware of other challenges in German Village.

Some businesses seek variances for parking that residents oppose.

Some businesses seek loading zones that, as long as they are paid for and apply existing city code, require no sign-off by affected residents.

Some people with off-street parking need only apply and pay for permits to park on-street -- no questions asked.

So my question in these Italian Village meetings has been: what's the standard we want to set?

What is the expectations game we're playing with property owners of EVERY kind when they buy in the urban core?

Should a $25 pass for each vehicle get you the right to park four cars and an RV on city streets? Or should you plan to get a bike and a bus pass when you move into the city?

There are interesting ideas out there about this very thing.

A Boston Globe op-ed column by Harvard professor Edward Glaeser argues on-street parking should be priced high enough to create an 85 percent occupancy rate.

So, by that theory, part of the trade-off of living in an amazing urban neighborhood is more expensive access to your car.

Maybe the first parking pass is $25 and the second one costs $1,000 and third once costs $5,000. That might drive the market for those bus passes through the roof!

San Francisco is looking at eliminating cheap neighborhood parking all together.

According to the San Francisco Bay Guardian newspaper, a garage parking space costs $300/month and an on-street parking pass is $8.60.

That drives not just residents, but nearby business district workers onto city streets (another problem part of the Village suffer from).

So if you'd like to be part of the discussion on the hyper-local level -- here in German Village -- please START with the online survey and standby for updates on where we proceed from its results to a workable solution.

We appreciate your input.

German Village Society Director Shiloh Todorov submitted the Village notebook column.

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