Residential Parking Program Headed To Commissioners For Approval
By Beth Milligan | Aug. 5, 2019
A residential parking program that would allow Traverse City residents in certain neighborhoods to obtain permits to park on their streets beyond posted time limits is headed to Traverse City commissioners for approval.
The proposed ordinance will first go to city planning commissioners Tuesday for feedback before appearing on the Traverse City commission agenda August 19. The Downtown Development Authority (DDA) has been gathering input from residents since at least 2016 regardin a residential parking permit (RPP) program to better accommodate downtown homeowners' parking needs in downtown-adjacent neighborhoods and reduce employee and spillover parking.
The DDA’s transportation demand management (TDM) study, completed in November 2017 to identify parking and traffic solutions for downtown, recommends an RPP, saying it could “mitigate against impacts from non-residential parking demand.” The program “does not eliminate on-street parking for public use,” according to a draft FAQ, “but aims to limit use by non-residents by enforcing posted time limits.”
Many streets in areas like Boardman and Central neighborhoods have posted traffic orders restricting parking hours, such as limiting parking to one or two hours or banning parking on school days between 8am and 3pm. The RPP would allow residents in those neighborhoods to park longer than those hours near their own homes. The policy as proposed only allows permits to be issued to vehicles registered through the Michigan Secretary of State to an address on a participating block. A homeowner who has a vehicle registered to a different address or a business, or who has dealer plates, could not obtain a permit for that car. Permits also can’t be used for boat trailers or motorhomes – only passenger vehicles.
The program requires the support of residents on a particular block in order to become eligible for RPPs. Blocks outside of the DDA district that have time restrictions – not meters – are eligible to participate. If a resident asks to have their block included in the program, the city’s transportation committee will review the request, making sure emergency and mail routes allow for prolonged street parking, then send a survey to every residential owner on that block. If 51 percent or more agree to participate, the block is included in the RPP program and residents can apply for permits.
There is no limit to the number of permits that can be issued, so long as the vehicles are registered to that block. Business owners are excluded from the program. There is not a fee charged for issuing virtual permits, according to DDA CEO Jean Derenzy. Permit holders can also park in other RPP zones in their neighborhood: For instance, if both the 300 block of Seventh Street and 400 block of Thirteenth Street approved the program, permit holders in Central Neighborhood could park in either area. Residents of blocks that are not participating in the RPP program are not eligible to obtain permits for any area.
Past versions of the RPP proposal attempted to cover a wide range of scenarios and contingencies, including accommodating overnight parking, allowing for downtown employee or commuter permits, and issuing permits to guests. Derenzy says those have been stripped away to focus on “resident access only” for the initial program launch in 2019. Permits will only be good for daytime hours; they do not give owners the right to park on the street overnight. They also can’t be transferred to guests or other vehicle owners – though permit holders with day guests could allow their guests to park in their driveways or private spaces and park their own cars on the street. Some city commissioners have expressed interest in continuing to explore overnight and guest parking as part of the program in the future; the move would require addressing additional complexities, such as using an alternating parking system on either side of the street to accommodate snow removal and street sweeping around vehicles parked overnight.
Derenzy says the tweaks to the latest draft reflect feedback from residents, including those in Central Neighborhood and nearly three dozen others who attended three DDA input sessions this year. “Overall, the sessions were positive and showed support for the program,” Derenzy says. If the program receives city commission support at the August 19 meeting, the DDA and city will “establish an ordinance allowing for this new permitted parking within the time-restricted residential neighborhoods,” according to Derenzy.Comment