Residents have been upset with the Royal Oak parking system, which averages 32,500 total monthly violations. Complaints center on the number of tickets that have been issued.

Residents have been upset with the Royal Oak parking system, which averages 32,500 total monthly violations. Complaints center on the number of tickets that have been issued.

Photo by Mike Koury

Royal Oak looking to make changes to downtown parking system

By: Mike Koury | Royal Oak Review | Published March 7, 2023


ROYAL OAK — Amid resident outcry, Royal Oak is looking to make changes to its parking system in the downtown.

At its Feb. 27 meeting, the City Commission received a report from parking consultants Rich & Associates with recommendations on how to improve the parking system.

Residents have sounded off on the city’s parking issues for months, stating that Royal Oak has a big problem with ticketing and on-street parking. The parking system features smart parking meters that went online in April 2022.

According to a parking study, Royal Oak averages 32,500 total monthly violations. Of these tickets, about 85% of them are violations of a five-minute grace period with an average of 25,000 per month. Violations of the two-hour time limit account for 2,800 tickets.

Emilio Giglio, a resident and local business owner for 22 years with Alex Emilio Salon, stated at the meeting that while his Birmingham business has been doing well, his Royal Oak location has not, and it’s because of parking.

“The parking is killing us,” he said. “Every day, I’ve got clients saying I’m going to go to your Birmingham location because parking is better. I’m tired of this parking, it’s ridiculous. They can’t figure out the app, they can’t figure out how to pay at the kiosk. … There’s a person out there helping people learn how to use the parking app. If somebody has to come down here and teach us how to use it, it’s probably not efficient.”

Recommendations to help decrease the number of violations were made as part of the Rich & Associates study, including changes to increase the grace period from five minutes to 15 minutes and to negotiate with parking company Municipal Parking Services an increase to a three-hour time limit.

“The point where we’ve received a lot of feedback is the duration of on-street parking,” City Manager Paul Brake said. “So this is really centered on the on-street parking, not so much the lots per se, but the mayor and myself, as well as the executive team, has met with the decision-makers at MPS. There’s been a good exchange of ideas and we remain optimistic that we can come up with really a sustainable solution that can help implement the smart parking system and make it that much more effective.”

Giglio spoke of his interest in a 15-minute grace period, and he hopes that changes can be made to the system so he doesn’t have to consider moving his business out of Royal Oak.

“I’ve been here a long time. I don’t want to move my business, but I have thought about it,” he said. “Birmingham’s been great, there’s a lot of other downtowns I could take my business to. I don’t want to do it because I’ve been here so long; got a lot of money invested in this town.”

Mayor Michael Fournier said the city has heard the frustrations about parking, from the businesses to patrons and visitors to the community, and the city is working on “aggressive and timely action” to resolve these issues as soon as possible.

“We had to wait for the Rich & Associates study to come in. We are operating and working in good faith with the vendor to make the necessary changes to make this system better, but we do feel the frustration and we have been feeling the frustration and it shouldn’t be a black eye in Royal Oak,” he said.

“We have amazing business owners here, amazing businesses, we have 5,700 parking spots and we’re talking about the 623 that have been really problematic right now,” he continued. “We don’t want to, you know, people shouldn’t be discouraged from coming to Royal Oak. There’s a lot of great parking options, two hours free in our structures, but this commission understands and has been feeling the frustration, and we feel the frustration ourselves, and we look forward to working with staff to get resolve to this matter in a timely, timely fashion.”

The commission did not make any approvals during the meeting, but it will be bringing the issue back at its March 13 meeting, which starts at 7:30 p.m. at City Hall, 203 S. Troy St., to make a final decision.

“We aren’t doing this in a vacuum. I personally and the city manager and city attorney, they have been meeting with representatives from the business community on a regular basis, with members of the (Downtown Development Authority), so we’ve been working with all of our stakeholders, the Police Department. … Everything is on the table because the only thing that’s acceptable in Royal Oak is a system that works for everyone, and the vendors are aware of the issues post-execution and everything is on the table,” he said.