Street-Parking Approach Changing in Response to Homeowners’ Dissatisfaction

Thursday, June 20, 2019, 6:55 am
By: 
Andrew Graham

Above: Director of Public Works Scott House (photo courtesy City of East Lansing).

 

Following pointed public backlash last week to a pilot street-parking revision rolled out by the City of East Lansing, the timeline for implementing the changes has been revised. And some streets that had been marked for “no parking” will now see one-side parking restored.

Director of Public Works Scott House brought that news to Tuesday’s City Council meeting.

Last week, a series of new “No Parking” signs covered with plastic bags were posted throughout the Bailey, Oakwood and Glencairn neighborhoods as part of the City’s pilot program for street-parking revisions.

The City’s program goal was to limit street parking where such parking might create impassable conditions for firetrucks, ambulances, or snowplows.

But when the signs went up on particularly narrow streets before residents could be notified, dissatisfaction swelled. Many homeowners objected to the City taking away the street parking on which they rely.

After hearing complaints from residents — primarily from the Oakwood and Glencairn neighborhoods — about the elimination of street parking entirely on certain streets, City staff is now recommending that some of those streets, like Baldwin Court, still have parking on one side of the street.

Under the new rules, House noted, there is a minimum width of 20 feet for street parking. Baldwin Court, coming in at exactly 20 feet wide, will be allowed one-sided parking because it’s a dead end with no through-traffic.

“The biggest concern on the narrow streets is through-traffic. If you’re going to Baldwin Court, you’re going to visit someone,” House said.

Without that parking, people on that street have virtually nowhere for visitors to park, because the lots are not very deep and the driveways are short.

‘Lessons learned in our communication and outreach efforts’

House explained to Council on Tuesday that the deployment of the new “No Parking” signs occurred before proper outreach from the City, creating a problematic situation for residents who felt “tricked.” House and his staff have been working to respond to citizens’ concerns.

“There were some lessons learned in our communication and outreach efforts,” House told City Council Tuesday.

“We’ll seek feedback from residents that are impacted and we’ll bring it back to you in the July meeting,” House said to Council.

Residents are being encouraged to attend the July 16 Council meeting to discuss the matter. The expectation is that the pilot program can really begin by the end of July, once the public has had ample opportunity to provide feedback.

“If residents want to come and address that issue, they would be welcome to do that. And we will potentially reconsider the original plan,” Mayor Pro Tem Erik Altmann said at Tuesday’s meeting.

House’s main message to residents and now Council is that this is truly a pilot program, and the City is, to some extent, flexible in finding “creative” solutions to this issue.

Mayor Mark Meadows said he sees the start-time delay of roughly a month as negligible for this program.

House said postcards will go out next week to affected residents, ahead of Council’s July meeting. He said that residents impacted by the new complete no-parking rules under order 478, where the most upset occurred, is where the City is seeking the most feedback.

“I think this is the process, actually, that we were contemplating having,” Meadows said when discussing the upcoming gathering of feedback.

 

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