Residential parking zone program sees changes before launch

By: Joshua Gordon | Woodward Talk | Published December 30, 2015

 The Ferndale City Council approved changes to a residential parking zone program set to launch in the spring during the council’s Dec. 14 meeting.

The Ferndale City Council approved changes to a residential parking zone program set to launch in the spring during the council’s Dec. 14 meeting.

Photo by Joshua Gordon

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FERNDALE — Residential parking zones on neighborhood streets near downtown Ferndale have been discussed and studied for three years, but the changes keep coming as the city looks to roll out the program in the spring.

The City Council approved a program for zones on several streets both north and south of Nine Mile Road and east and west of Woodward Avenue during an October meeting. That meeting followed the conclusion of a residential parking zone put in effect as a test on West Troy and West Saratoga streets in 2012.

After the approval, the program was taken to the Ordinance Review Committee, where more changes were made; specifically, that there would be no residential parking zones in the northwest quadrant of downtown Ferndale.

Initial plans called for zones on West Breckinridge and Withington streets, but Assistant City Manager Joseph Gacioch said the committee concluded that a supermajority might not be in favor of zones in that area. The Ordinance Review Committee also removed East Saratoga from the plans.

“We did discuss at length these areas, and the data didn’t suggest a supermajority, which is 65 percent or more, would want or approve permit restrictions,” Gacioch said. “There are a number of rental homes on those blocks, and the perception was it was not needed. We want a policy adopted for the residents and not one that is a burden to residents.”

In the update to council, the West Troy and West Saratoga pilot project zone would become a permanent residential parking zone, while East Troy and East Breckinridge, between Woodward and Bermuda Street, also would become residential parking zones.

East Breckinridge from Bermuda to Leland Street, and Vester Avenue between Bermuda and Leland, would be resident-only parking zones, meaning only residents who have a permit could park on the street between 4 p.m. and midnight Mondays-Saturdays.

The decision was made to make those areas only available to residents for that time period because the streets are narrower and many houses don’t have driveways, meaning most cars park on both sides of the street.

“With a resident-only parking zone, we don’t know what that looks like yet, so we wanted to leave room for service vehicles and other daytime guests for the residents,” Gacioch said. “There is some flexibility, but most residents did indicate the most primary concern was the evening, with concerns with nighttime traffic.”

The enforcement hours in the regular residential parking zones would be 11 a.m.-midnight Mondays-Saturdays, with guests and other vehicles able to park on those streets for up to two hours.

The Ordinance Review Committee also put language in place to allow other blocks in the city to petition to have a residential parking zone put in place. The city or a petition with 65 percent of a block’s residents would set up a public hearing in front of the City Council to determine if a parking zone is appropriate.

Gacioch said the city will be conducting benchmarking studies of traffic — before the program is set to launch in March — to have data to study how the zones affect traffic and parking in other areas. Councilman Dan Martin voiced concerns about when the studies would be done, as he said most neighborhoods around downtown Ferndale are most affected during the summer months.

“Studying spring benchmarks is a waste of time, as those areas are crushed May to August because of the festivals,” Martin said. “A spring study would be next to worthless, as it won’t tell us anything we want to know. It is like checking traffic on Interstate 75 at 1 a.m. — it is not the right time to look at that kind of thing.”

Another concern raised was the stopping of enforcement at midnight while bars and restaurants may stay open until 2 a.m. Gacioch said it was a decision made based on the current staff’s ability to enforce the zones, but once they have the program up and running, they can study to see if they should expand the enforcement hours.

Residents in a residential parking zone would pay for two permanent parking stickers for their district and receive two guest passes that could be used for whatever needs they might have. Gacioch said costs are yet to be determined and are expected to be established next summer before residents start to pay in August.

Council approved the Ordinance Review Committee’s changes by a vote of 3-1, with Councilman Greg Pawlica voting against it. While Pawlica was against the zones in October, he voted in favor of them because residents wanted them, but during the Dec. 14 meeting, he said he didn’t think it was the right time to implement the program.

“There have been conversations within the (Downtown Development Authority) about changing meter times, and that would change our contract with Republic Parking, so why implement a program that in two to five months will change again?” Pawlica asked. “Maybe we should wait to have a handle on parking times and management of that, and then implement this program. I also don’t think it will solve problems with people complaining at 1-2 a.m.”

Mayor Dave Coulter said that a residential parking zone program had been in the works for years, and the city just needed to get something in place so it would have a frame of reference to fix the parking issues.

“This alone won’t solve the problem, but it could help us move towards it,” he said. “This isn’t perfect and might need to be tweaked, but we need to put a framework in place that sets the expectations for these places. We have talked about it a long time, and I would hate for us not to put a framework in place to see if it works.”

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