Restricted parking pilot program to extend through year’s end

By: Joshua Gordon | Farmington Press | Published June 3, 2013

 Ferndale City Council approved the extension of the residential parking zones pilot program along West Troy and West Saratoga streets May 29. The initial pilot program ran from April 2012 to April 2013, but the program will be extended through Dec. 31, 2013, with new enforcement hours.

Ferndale City Council approved the extension of the residential parking zones pilot program along West Troy and West Saratoga streets May 29. The initial pilot program ran from April 2012 to April 2013, but the program will be extended through Dec. 31, 2013, with new enforcement hours.

File photo by Donna Agusti

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FERNDALE — A restricted parking zones pilot program, which was created last April along West Troy and West Saratoga streets in downtown Ferndale, was extended through the end of the year by City Council during the May 28 meeting.

The program was created to alleviate parking problems for residents on West Troy and West Saratoga by creating two-hour parking along those streets from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Residents were able to acquire free parking permits from the city so that they could park on the street for any extended period of time.

The pilot program was intended to last a year through this April, but City Manager April Lynch said the city felt it needed to continue the pilot after discussing the program with residents. The program will run through Dec. 31, 2013, with the hopes of putting a more permanent program in place after.

The city will hire a new part-time enforcement officer, who will be paid from the city’s parking fund, in addition to extending enforcement hours from 11-1 a.m.

“Over the course of last year, we committed to reaching out to those who lived in that area and received a lot of feedback and found we still have room for growth in that area and are not ready to fully implement the program yet,” Lynch said. “Our focus for the remainder of the year will be on needing to re-evaluate how we enforce in that particular area. Residents said enforcement was not enough and they wanted it to go later; that was consistent feedback.”

Lynch said she and Police Chief Timothy Collins looked into concentrated enforcement in the area of West Troy and West Saratoga, as well as during peak traffic times. The new enforcement officer will focus on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights, and while not specifically there for enforcing the pilot program, it will be one of the new person’s main focuses.

“Basically, we have parking enforcement out there during those times, but during the most busy times for meter parking enforcement, the residential doesn’t get all the attention that we could give it because of limited people we have,” Collins said. “A new part-time person would primarily go out there and the first course would be to enforce the restricted parking zones.”

Collins said the new Ferndale Parking+ system has taken some attention away from residential parking enforcement.

“It is not like the old days where when the parking meter expired, we gave a ticket,” he said. “Enforcement officers have to go onto a website and make sure drivers didn’t pay electronically, and if they write a ticket, they have to check again to make sure they didn’t pay in the time they weren’t on the site.

“We are still getting used to the new parking system and we have to take time to instruct users on how to use it. So, a lot of time is spent not only on the enforcement function, which is longer and more involved, but also familiarizing people with the new system. Residential has, unfortunately, fallen through the cracks.”

In talking with Ferndale residents, Lynch said glitches were brought up and the program wasn’t where they wanted it to be. The point of the pilot, she said, is to make things easier on the residents and it hasn’t fulfilled that obligation yet.

“From day one, we tried to create a program that works for the city and for the residents and have something we could take and put into other neighborhoods if we wanted,” Lynch said. “This program was sparked by people wanting less parking on their own streets, but an outlying issue is still the noise, walking traffic and litter. We have to ask if we are fixing the right issue, and if we are not, we have to go back and adjust.”

The pilot program is available for other neighborhoods if a petition is submitted with at least 65 percent of residents’ signatures from the target area. Lynch said the city would like more time to iron out the kinks before expanding the pilot.

“We are getting to that point where we can expand it, but we need to know how the program really works before we implement it in other neighborhoods,” she said. “We want to try and not do more than this one until we get it right because why would we have all these programs if it did not work? We want to hold back until we get the program (cemented).”

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